- Leapfrog Group released its fall 2019 patient safety rankings on more than 2,600 hospitals, finding that 33% earned an A, 25% earned a B, 34% earned a C and 8% earned a D. Less than 1% earned an F. The grade distribution was similar to the group's spring 2019 rankings.
- Maine knocked Oregon out of the top patient safety spot, as 59% of its hospitals earned an A ranking. Oregon (48%) moved to fourth place, while Utah (56%) nabbed second place, up from the fifth spot in the spring. Virginia (56%) slipped one slot to third place. North Carolina (47%), rounded out the top five by climbing up from 19th place in the spring.
- Three states — Wyoming, Alaska and North Dakota — did not have any A-rated hospitals. West Virginia and New York rounded out the bottom five states in the rankings from Leapfrog, a nonprofit that produces reports on patient safety and quality at provider organizations.
Leapfrog's biannual ranking is one of several high profile reports measuring the safety and quality of patient care at U.S. hospitals. Institutions that score well typically tout their ranking to attract patients and differentiate themselves from competitors. The reports can also help patients researching where to go for non-emergency care or procedures.
Leapfrog's grades are calculated based on 28 evidence-based measures of patient safety. Its flagship annual report, Leapfrog Hospital Survey, focuses on quality measures and resource use.
The group has been expanding its research. Last month, it released aggregate findings on outpatient facilities, including ambulatory surgery centers and hospital outpatient departments. In the inaugural results, Leapfrog found that outpatient facilities were lacking in some areas. For example, more than one-third of clinicians performing procedures at ASCs and hospital outpatient departments were not board certified.
In the rankings released Thursday, Leapfrog also found that 36 hospitals nationwide had earned an A in every grading update since the inaugural report in spring 2012.
The fall report coincides with the 20th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine's seminal medical safety report called To Err Is Human, Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder noted in a statement accompanying the findings. "In stark contrast to 20 years ago, we're now able to pinpoint where the problems are, and that allows us to grade hospitals," she said. "It also allows us to better track progress. Encouragingly, we are seeing fewer deaths from the preventable errors we monitor in our grading process."
Hospitals often dispute the methodologies used to produce prominent rankings, which also include reports from U.S. News & World Report and CMS. Part of the problem is that outcomes vary widely, which can be confusing to consumers.
Providers have focused their fire in particular on CMS' Hospital Compare star rating system, which they say oversimplifies quality and is overly complicated for consumers to interpret.
Nonetheless, CMS released a new version of its star rating system in March, after delaying updates for more than a year.
The agency also released for public comment proposed changes to how it calculates the ratings, such as comparing hospitals against other facilities in a peer group rather than against all hospitals.
Hospital advocacy groups, which said the proposed changes are not enough, argue that CMS' methods do not accurately account for hospitals' differing patient populations, penalizing safety net and teaching institutions.