Hospitals are often considered havens of health and healing. However, medical errors, in even the most well-respected facilities, are alarmingly common. While physicians and other healthcare providers are generally compassionate and competent professionals, none are immune to the occasional mistake and error. And unfortunately, patient harm is often the result of such mishap.
While errors will never be eliminated, some hospitals have demonstrated a higher standard for patient safety than others. And so, ranking systems such as the organization Leapfrog evaluate hospitals based on their level of safety. Leapfrog, who represents employers and other healthcare purchasers, annually surveys about 2,600 general acute-care hospitals in the US. Each facility is assigned a letter grade A through F. And every year, the results are consistently concerning.
The 2019 Spring Results:
In the Spring of this year, Leapfrog confirmed hospital safety fears with a couple of worrisome stats. Patients at D and F graded hospitals were at a higher risk of dying from safety issues such as human error, infections, and falls by 92 percent compared to those awarded an A grade. And facilities with C and B grades were not found to be much better, with 88 percent and 35 percent higher numbers of avoidable deaths.
Across the US, the survey concluded that an estimated 160,000 lives are lost each year due to avoidable medical errors in hospitals. Despite these alarming statistics, however, the conclusions of this grading system is intended to serve an important purpose. They are strategically made available to the public so to encourage safety among hospitals and health care professionals. And healthcare, in general, has seen some significant improvement. In 2016, the number of avoidable hospital deaths reached a total of 205,000. So, while there is much improvement to be had, progress is being made.
What you need to know about these letter grades:
Understanding and interpreting this system can be a bit challenging. Here’s what you need to know as a consumer:
- These letter grades are available for your viewing. You can check a specific hospital’s grade on Leapfrog’s website. And if you can choose your hospital, make sure to include its safety grade as a major factor in your decision.
- While more than half of acute care hospitals in the US are assigned a grade, veterans, military, specialty, and surgical hospitals are not evaluated.
- Leapfrog uses data from the centers for medicare and Medicaid services as well as its own annual survey to comprise its grades. Their survey asks for the facility’s information and simulations concerning patient safety.
- Leapfrog is not your only resource. Make sure to compare your hospital’s grade with other ranking services. CMS, which issues star ratings, and the US News and World Report annual hospital ranking, are other valued resources.
If you are able to choose your hospital, make sure to consider its safety grade. A safe facility could make a significant difference in your treatment. And if you or a loved one have experienced harm due to the unsafe conditions of your hospital, make sure to seek legal assistance. We at Raynes | Erickson are prepared to advocate for those who have received incompetent medical care. Reach out today for expert legal counsel and support.