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Leapfrog's New Safety Report Card Alarms Hospitals

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 28, 2012

The measures combine data that hospitals voluntarily report to Leapfrog or to the American Hospital Association with that which is publicly reported through Medicare data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website.

Binder says all 2,618 acute care hospitals that met requirements for a grade—having more than 25 beds, are not critical access or specialty hospitals, and are not located in the state of Maryland—were given a chance to see their raw numbers as well as their letter grades in the weeks and days before today's public release, and refute them if there was an error.



Of those 2,618 hospitals, 790 received an A, 678 received a B, and 1,004 received a C.

While 58% of the hospitals got the same grade as in the June report card, 23% got a higher grade and 19% got a lower grade. Binder says that even with improvement, most hospitals "have a long way to go" to make their hospitals as safe as possible.

When Leapfrog first released its grades in June, many hospitals and their trade groups were incensed, and criticized many aspects of the scoring system, from the measures it uses to the weights applied to each of the 26 measures. They also accused Leapfrog of not alerting hospitals about the process and being secretive.

The American Hospital Association said the safety scores were inaccurate and advised patients to avoid using them to make decisions about where they should receive care. They even criticized Leapfrog for requiring that hospitals pay a fee of between $5,000 to $12,000 to use their letter grade in marketing materials.

Poorly performing hospitals contacted by HealthLeaders Mediain the last two days used many of the same arguments to refute their scores. They vehemently criticized Leapfrog scoring methodology and the weights given to certain measures. Some hospital officials said they didn't know anything about the scorecard's November update and were caught by surprise.

UCLA's Rosenthal is among the most unhappy. He says that an unfortunate case of one air embolism in a liver transplant patient in the spring of 2010 pulled down the medical center's score. If that single patient had been excluded, UCLA would have gotten at least a C and maybe an A, he says.

Rosenthal also says the Leapfrog methodology favors hospitals that voluntarily report data to the organization, and because of that, he called the safety scorecard "a form of extortion" to get more hospitals to send their safety indicators to Leapfrog's national database.

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9 comments on "Leapfrog's New Safety Report Card Alarms Hospitals"


Roberta Hughes (12/1/2012 at 9:17 AM)
Interesting article, thank you for sharing. Whether LeapFrog rating system is flawed or not, it raises the awareness of patient safety and will influence where patients choose to receive care. As a healthcare image consultant, I "see" many safety and security issues. The appearance of healthcare professionals also impact patient safety. While on-site consulting with a client about their healthcare image and uniform program (or lack there of), a bomb threat occurred and 150,000 patient financial records were stolen. Hospital's relaxed uniform dress policies make it difficult to discern between patient and care provider, and between physician, nurse, or medical assistant, creating significant safety issues. While conducting an on-site image assessment, to the dismay of the hospital, we witnessed visitors enter restricted hospital areas. The appearance of the hospital and hospital staff play also play a key role in patient safety.

rn (11/30/2012 at 5:34 AM)
I communicated with LeapFrog and was impressed. I like the integrity of the people at LeapFrog. I think LeapFrog's compassionate ethics and skill comes across in the explanations and information given by Ms. Binder. The background of the people on staff at LeapFrog is superior and will give patients confidence in LeapFrog's opinions. Think about all the required patient safety defenses that UCLA doctors and administrators breach to receive an F from LeapFrog. UCLA's "F" is not about uninsured people draining the resources of a taxpayer funder hospital. An F from LeapFrog should frighten everyone into action – encouraging people to speak up and not let your family be a victim. Health care consumers' personal funds and taxpayer money should not result in preventable suffering. A score of F takes a "team effort" and bad leadership to become that bad and stay that bad. UCLA's organized pattern of patient abuse is beyond random chance and qualitatively different from negligence. LeapFrog's info. shows that the danger to patients is the quid pro quo amongst hospitals, health plans and California government that is supposed to be monitoring hospitals – especially taxpayer funded hospitals. Their tit-for-tat seems to include negligently retaining employees willing to harm patients. Other readers here may be interested in these MD's experience about UCLA. I think it will help people to understand how UCLA received an F Joseph A. Stirt, MD http://www.bookofjoe.com/2006/04/behindthemedspe_6.html www.anesthesiologyexpert.com/ Peter T Banos MD http://tryingforsense.blogspot.com/

concerned consumer (11/29/2012 at 7:04 PM)
I applaud what Leapfrog is trying to do, but what John Q. Public does not realize is that you cannot compare hospitals in the way Leapfrog is attempting. Their methodology does not take into account how sick or injured a patient is and they don't account for patients who don't follow doctors orders or who have language, cultural or socio-economic challenges. What Leapfrog doesn't tell the public is that they are a watchdog group funded by employers who want to use the scores to extort hospitals and insurance companies. As someone who lost their father because of an HCA-owned hospital's inappropriate care (that does not meet the legal definition of negligence), what I want to see is more transparency from regulatory bodies like CMS, the states and The Joint Commission. Any rating system from publicly-reported data is going to be skewed because the data is out-of-date by the time its published. Regulatory bodies are the ones who need to score hospitals and health systems, not an Angie's List type of organization like Leapfrog.