Leapfrog says 10 states have failing hospitals, calls for more accountability

By | November 9, 2018

Dive Brief:

  • With the dust still settling on the midterm elections, Leapfrog’s fall 2018 Hospital Safety Grades show in-hospital errors, accidents, injuries and medical errors plague hospitals in both red and blue states.
  • Of more than 2,600 hospitals assessed, 32% earned an A grade, 24% a B, 37% a C, 6% a D and just under 1% an F.
  • Four of the five states with the most A grades are traditionally blue states: New Jersey (56.7%), Oregon (54.5%), Virginia (51.5%) and Massachusetts (44.1%). Red-leaning Texas rounded out the list with 43% of hospitals achieving an A. Overall, 33% of hospitals in blue states and 32% in red states received an A, making it pretty much a dead heat.

Dive Insight:

Hospital safety is a serious issue. According to a recent analysis conducted by Johns Hopkins for Leapfrog, more than 206,000 avoidable deaths occur each year in U.S. hospitals, and patients’ risk of dying goes up as hospital grade declines. Patients treated at D and F graded hospitals are nearly twice as likely to die than those in A rated hospitals. Hospital safety grades can help drive transparency and improved patient outcomes.

“Healthcare was an important issue in the 2018 mid-term elections, yet both parties are still neglecting the third leading cause of death in America — errors and infections in hospitals,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said in a statement. “Every elected official, from city councilors, to senators, to the President, should hold hospitals accountable and support efforts to improve patient safety.”

This year’s grades for the first time include a hospital’s use of bar code medication administration (BCMA), which helps ensure patients receive the right medication and dosage at bedside. Medication errors affect as many as one in four patients, according to Leapfrog.

Hospital rankings are controversial, with the power to boost or tarnish a hospital’s brand and marketing. Last fall, Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago sued Leapfrog after its grade was bumped down from A to C. The hospital claimed Leapfrog’s grade was based on incorrect information. The suit was later dismissed on grounds that Leapfrog’s grading system is protected under First Amendment freedom of speech protections.

In addition to Texas, the red states with the largest share of A hospitals are North Carolina and Ohio. Leapfrog used 270toWin, a nonpartisan interactive electoral map, assess blue versus red state performance. 

The dubious honor of having the fewest A hospitals goes to Connecticut, Nebraska, Delaware, North Dakota and the District of Columbia. In fact, Delaware, North Dakota and D.C. didn’t have a single A hospital among them.

Ten states have hospitals graded F. Of those, five are in blue states (California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and New Mexico) and five are in red states (Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and South Carolina).

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