News Column

Leapfrog Group Grades Hospital Safety

Nov. 28, 2012

Marni Jameson

Hospitals throughout the nation are receiving their report cards today as The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit that advocates for safer health-care delivery, releases its second state-by-state Hospital Safety Scores.

In Central Florida, Orlando Health officials celebrated their straight A's at four hospitals. Those same hospitals had received C's on Leapfrog's previous report card.

Florida Hospital, meanwhile, maintained B averages at seven of its Central Florida hospitals. Its Daytona Beach hospital received the region's fifth A rating.

The report card assigns an A, B, C, D or F letter grade to hospitals based on how well they prevent errors, infections, injuries and medication mix-ups.

Leapfrog issued its first report in June to help consumers decide which hospitals to go to and which to avoid. The June report relied primarily on 2010 data, while the new report was based primarily on 2011 data.

"The latest scores show that U.S. hospitals are making progress, but many still have a long way to go to reliably deliver safe health care," said Leah Binder, Leapfrog Group president and CEO.

Across the Sunshine State, hospitals raised their grades overall: 39 percent of the 156 hospitals graded received A's, earning the state a 10th-place ranking in the nation. In the earlier report, 32 percent of Florida hospitals earned A's.

Massachusetts had the highest percentage of A's, with 83 percent of its hospitals getting a top mark.

In Central Florida, Orlando Health's hospitals -- Orlando Regional Medical Center, Dr. P. Phillips Hospital, Orlando Regional South Seminole Hospital and Health Central, which the hospital system acquired in April -- all boosted their grade by two levels over their last marks.

"We expected we'd be a lot better," said Dr. Jamal Hakim, Orlando Health's chief of quality and transformation. "We were hoping for the grand slam, and we got it."

Because Leapfrog doesn't grade specialty or pediatric hospitals, Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies, and Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, were not included in the survey.

Florida Hospital's main campus in Orlando as well as its hospitals in Altamonte, Apopka, Celebration, east Orlando, Kissimmee and Winter Park all held steady with B's.

"We performed well and know there are definitely still opportunities for us to improve," said Lee Johnson, Florida Hospital's vice president for performance improvement and safety. "We are working toward the Leapfrog standards. They are good indicators of where we should be heading, and we look at that every day."

Of the more than 2,600 hospitals Leapfrog rated nationally, 790 earned A's and 25 earned F's. No Florida hospital received an F, although eight earned D's.

Unnecessary deaths

Each year more than 180,000 Americans die as a result of preventable hospital errors, infections and injuries, Binder said. On average, one out of four hospital patients is harmed by a medical error.

Put another way, if medical mistakes were a disease, they would be the sixth-leading cause of death in America -- just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer's, she said.

The Hospital Safety Score uses national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey; the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to produce a single score representing a hospital's overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm.

The report also pulled data from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey. A nine-member panel of hospital-safety experts from top institutions such as Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins universities helped compile final scores.

Health analysts based grades on 26 variables, including rates of infections, medication mix-ups, acquired injuries (including bedsores) and other preventable -- and often fatal -- conditions.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters