Acccording to a new safety rating program, deaths due to hospital error constitute a “silent epidemic.”

The Leapfrog Group //leapfroggroup.org, an independent, national nonprofit focused on transparency and safety in hospitals, recently released the first-ever Hospital Safety Score, which grades hospitals from across the country. Each hospital received a grade of A, B, C, D or F based on patient injuries, medical and medication errors and infections.

The study revealed that mistakes and infections continue to plague American hospitals. “Approximately 400 people die every day because of hospital errors — the equivalent of a jet crashing every day and killing all aboard,” The Leapfrog Group said in a press release. “According to recent studies, one in four Medicare patients will leave a hospital with a potentially fatal issue they didn’t have prior to hospitalization. On average, one medication error per day occurs for each hospitalized patient, and more than 180,000 Americans die every year from hospital accidents, errors, and infections.”

In fact, the latest update to the Hospital Safety Score, released in November, noted that while hospitals are making some progress, many still have a long way to go to reliably deliver safe health care. Key Findings include:

  • Of the 2618 general hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 790 earned an “A,” 678 earned a “B,” 1004 earned a “C,” 121 earned a “D” and 25 earned an “F.”
  • 58 percent of hospitals maintained the same grade level as they had in the scores issued in June. Another 34 percent of hospitals changed by one grade level (some higher, some lower). About eight percent of hospitals showed more dramatic change, moving two grade levels or more up or down.
  • A wide range of hospitals earned “A’s,” with no one class of hospitals (i.e., teaching hospitals, public hospitals, etc.) dominating among those showing the highest safety scores. Hospitals earning an “A” include academic medical centers New York Presbyterian Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Mayo Clinic. Many rural hospitals earned an “A,” including Geisinger Medical Center and Blessing Hospital.
  • Hospitals with myriad national accolades, such as Massachusetts General Hospital, Duke University Hospital, and Cleveland Clinic Florida each earned an “A.”
  • “A” scores were also earned by hospitals serving highly vulnerable, impoverished, and/or health-challenged populations, such as Bellevue Hospital Center and Detroit Receiving Hospital.

Interestingly, geography comes into play. In analyzing statewide performance, both Massachusetts and Maine showed stellar results — with 83 percent of Massachusetts hospitals and 80 percent of hospitals in Maine awarded “A’s.” For more information about the Hospital Safety Score, please visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

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