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20 Years After “To Err is Human”, Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades Prove Transparency Can Save Lives
November 7, 2019, WASHINGTON D.C. – The Leapfrog Group’s fall 2019 Hospital Safety Grades, announced today, highlight progress in bringing patient safety into the sunlight and demonstrate improvement from a problem first made prominent in a landmark report released 20 years ago. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is a bi-annual grading assigning “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” and “F” letter grades to general acute-care hospitals in the U.S. It is the nation’s only rating focused entirely on patient safety—preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

The release of updated Safety Grades this fall coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) groundbreaking report, To Err Is Human, which revealed nearly 100,000 lives are lost every year due to preventable medical errors. Subsequent research suggests the number may be twice as high. “In stark contrast to 20 years ago, we’re now able to pinpoint where the problems are, and that allows us to grade hospitals,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “It also allows us to better track progress. Encouragingly, we are seeing fewer deaths from the preventable errors we monitor in our grading process.” Binder cited an analysis earlier this year by the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality that found 45,000 fewer deaths than a 2016 analysis, based on the prevalence of safety problems in hospitals graded by The Leapfrog Group.

Across all states, highlights of findings from the fall 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade include:
  • More than 2,600 hospitals graded with the breakdown as follows: 33% earned an “A,” 25% earned a “B,” 34% earned a “C,” 8% a “D” and just under 1% an “F.”
  • The five states with the highest percentages of “A” hospitals are: Maine (59%), Utah (56%), Virginia (56%), Oregon (48%) and North Carolina (47%).
  • There are no “A” hospitals in three states: Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota.
  • Notably, 36 hospitals nationwide have achieved an “A” in every grading update since the launch of the Safety Grade in spring 2012.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is reviewed by a National Expert Panel and receives guidance from the Armstrong Institute. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. It is updated every six months, once in the fall and once in the spring. It shares critical patient safety information to consumers, in an easily digestible way, so that they can make informed decisions about where they seek care.

“The findings of the IOM report, published two decades ago, laid the foundation of what The Leapfrog Group stands for today,” said Binder. “We commend others who have joined us in the drive for transparency, including the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services, which commits to public reporting of safety data, employers and payors, who put appropriate pressure on facilities to make performance data available, and hospitals that publicly report on their safety and quality.”

View the article online here. For more information about the Safety Grades, as well as individual hospital grades and state rankings, visit www.hospitalsafetygrade.org.

About The Leapfrog Group: Founded in 2000 by large employers and other purchasers, The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization driving a movement for giant leaps forward in the quality and safety of American health care. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance, empowering purchasers to find the highest-value care and giving consumers the lifesaving information they need to make informed decisions. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Leapfrog's other main initiative, assigns letter grades to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families from errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.