AHA: Leapfrog 'Manipulated' Data Related to Safety Scores

Cheryl Clark, June 28, 2012

Patients should not use The Leapfrog Group's Hospital Safety Score, which gives hospitals an A to F letter grade based on their likelihood of causing harm, because it's inaccurate, the American Hospital Association said this week.

The scoring applies a 26-measure questionnaire that is biased, uses unreliable measures, applies variable weights to the same measures for different groups of hospitals, and contains significant errors, AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock said in a five-page letter to Leah Binder, Leapfrog President and CEO.

Further, Umbdenstock said, "we are hearing from enough of our members about significant data issues that we are concerned about the manipulation of the data."

On Wednesday, Binder responded, addressing each of the AHA's three points. She said Umbdenstock is incorrect or misinformed in many of his claims. "With regard to the idea that Leapfrog deliberately manipulated data: This is a very serious charge for you to make without offering a single example to support it. We will launch a full investigation of any such example should you find one," she wrote.

The Leapfrog Group, a non-profit organization launched by employers who wanted to improve hospital quality of care, released safety scores on June 5 for 2,651 hospitals based on the occurrence of preventable events as falls, pressure ulcers, or bloodstream infections, and whether they have safety systems in place to prevent errors and complications. Hospitals retaliated in anger, saying they were caught off guard, and heatedly criticized the survey results.

Days later, some in the hospital industry went further, saying they suspected Leapfrog was trying to drum up more support for its annual hospital survey, alleging that if a hospital participated in Leapfrog's data collection, they got a better safety grade.

The AHA's three main criticisms and Binder's responses are as follows:


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