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Hospitals Give Leapfrog Safety Scores a Failing Grade

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, June 7, 2012

Hospitals that don't volunteer that information to Leapfrog had their scores based solely on Medicare data, and some saw that as pivotal.

Shannon Phillips, MD, patient safety officer for the Cleveland Clinic, says the scoring system "feels uncomfortable" because her healthcare system dropped out of Leapfrog some years ago.

"We found that because it's a self-assessment, and you take that seriously, you go out pulling cases and doing a lot of work, which is [a] tremendous amount. We found it wasn't fundamentally adjusting the priorities we set for ourselves.  We decided that the resources spent to do a good job accurately completing that survey were better served providing quality care."

Jim Lott, vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, which includes 180 acute care facilities in six counties, said the Leapfrog scorecard is also flawed because it "grades hospitals on a curve, and that's just wrong. It should be that the hospital either meets the standard or it doesn't.

"Imagine what it would be like if you graded restaurants on a curve? No you don't." If they don't meet the standards, they are shut down.

In an e-mail yesterday, Binder countered  each point. Among her responses were these:
First, she says, "We made many attempts to contact hospitals well in advance as a courtesy and to request their feedback" and sent a letter to each CEO and the AHA on May 4 for help reaching each hospital.  "Almost 1,000 hospitals contacted us in May in response to our letter."

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10 comments on "Hospitals Give Leapfrog Safety Scores a Failing Grade"


cheryl clark (6/13/2012 at 9:40 AM)
Difference between an adverse event and an event that causes harm. It's my understanding that an adverse event is something that happens that would could have adverse consequences to a patient, but may not have. For example, let's say that a patient gets the wrong medication. That's an adverse event, it wasn't supposed to happen. It was a mistake in care. But it didn't cause the patient harm. (They got aspirin instead of a prescription medication, for example.) the mistake was quickly caught, the patient got the right meds. It's serious, though, because the mistake might not have been caught or the error may have involved a wrongly administered medication that has a higher risk of harmful side-effects. So there is a subtle difference between adverse events and harm. Clearly Jim Lott is correct, that 1/3 of the patients in hospitals are not worse off after their care than before it.

R Daniel King (6/12/2012 at 10:14 AM)
Dear James Lott: The definition of "adverse" contains "detrimental" which means "something that impairs, injures, or causes loss." I believe any patient subjected to an "adverse" event would say they were "harmed."

James Lott (6/11/2012 at 4:37 PM)
Dear R.D. King and Nurse Day: To say that 1 in 3 hospitalized patients experience an "adverse event" is not the same as "...1 in 3 patients suffers HARM from their hospital care." (emphasis added to Ms. Day's quote)