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Leapfrog's New Safety Report Card Alarms Hospitals

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, November 28, 2012

"It certainly feels that way, and you can't draw any other conclusion when 35% of the [Leapfrog] equation is derived from self-reported measures."

When Leapfrog released its report card in June, he says, the hospital was listed with a "grade pending" to indicate a D or F, and he should have complained then. Had UCLA officials done that, he says, "Leapfrog probably would have fixed it, or they would have put an asterisk by our score."

Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety for the American Hospital Association, last June heatedly criticized the scoring system on a variety of points. But in an e-mail to address the updated report card, she says that Leapfrog "has made some important changes in its scoring methodology, in that they minimize scoring disparities between those that report to AHA."

However, she says the AHA is "still concerned that they [Leapfrog] continue to use data that is being retired from Hospital Compare because the measures do not provide an accurate picture of the quality efforts in many hospitals today."

She added that patients should use all tools at their disposal, including talking with their doctors, nurses, friends, and family, in making healthcare choices, and not rely solely on Leapfrog's safety scores.

Shannon Phillips, MD, quality and patient safety officer at the Cleveland Clinic, regretted that her hospital showed up with a D, which was even lower than the C it received in June.

"Many of these measures come from the public space (reflected in statistics posted on Hospital Compare) and we know our performance in them, and we know many of them have improved," Phillips says, due to the efforts of the hospital’s dedicated quality improvement team. "But [the data Leapfrog uses] is a rolling three-year average. It takes a long time for data they're looking at to reflect our current work."

She says that she has yet to delve into the methodology to see all the reasons the Cleveland Clinic did so poorly. But she notes that one element is that the Cleveland Clinic several years ago stopped voluntarily reporting to Leapfrog.

Doug Patten, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs for 101-year-old Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, a 445-bed facility in Albany, GA, says he "patently disagrees" with his hospital's F grade, saying that's not reflected in current federally reported data.

"Much of what Leapfrog is using is three or four years old," he says, "and is based on some proprietary methodology, capriciously assigning adverse grades to someone."

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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.