Hospitals show scant progress on safety

May 9, 2013 in Medical Technology

An update to the Hospital Safety Score that assigns grades “A” through “F” to more than 2,500 hospitals in the United States shows they have made only incremental progress in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt their patients. The Leapfrog Group, a hospital watchdog group, conducts the surveys.

Leapfrog Group President and CEO Leah Binder told Healthcare IT News she was “disappointed” in the slow progress. She added that the data are a year old, so she is hoping the next study will show much more improvement. Binder called on the consumers to press their hospitals for transparency and safety, and to be vigilant in healthcare settings.

[See also: Leapfrog grades hospitals A to F on patient safety.]

“The American public has to put pressure on hospitals,” she said. “What that does is drive the market, and the market drives motivation, and motivation is more important than money.” She added that many of the safety measures – washing hands to prevent infection, for instance, are “fairly inexpensive.”

The Hospital Safety Score methodology is fully transparent, Binder notes, and it has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety.

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The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization that administers the score, confirms this has contributed to a shift in how the U.S. states are ranked for hospital safety. With 80 percent of its hospitals receiving an “A,” Maine edged out Massachusetts as the number one state for safety. Joining Maine and Massachusetts in the “top five” ranking for number of “A” Scores are Minnesota, Virginia and Illinois.

[See also: HHS convenes patient safety workgroup.]

In the U.S., “roughly one in four of all hospitalized patients suffers some form of harm,” according to industry studies.

“Safety is a 24/7, 365-day effort,” says Binder. “This update of grades and accompanying change in state rankings should serve as a reminder that we are on an ongoing journey. Patient safety shouldn’t be merely a concern; it should be a priority. Everyone – including consumers, hospitals, patients, families of patients, unions and employers – has a role in improving safety in American hospitals.”

Key findings:

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