Some Big Hospitals Receive Low Patient Safety Grades

A health care quality watchdog group assigned letter grades A through F to 2,600 hospitals across the country and a number of well known hospitals scored poorly. The safety score compiled by The Leapfrog Group used a number of factors, including preventable problems that are often signs of medical malpractice, to rate the hospitals. Several noteworthy hospitals that received less than stellar grades were quick to question the validity of Leapfrog’s analysis.

The grades are the latest in an attempt by patient advocates and other concerned with the high rate of errors in the medical field to give patients more information about the care they are receiving. Preventable hospital problems, such as giving a patient the wrong medication, bedsores and hospital acquired infections should either be rare or completely absent. Instead, these conditions are quite common and lead to thousands of injuries and deaths in hospitals every year. Patients checking in to a hospital face the very real risk of being harmed by the care they receive.

Consumers of medical services deserve to know how well hospitals do in avoiding preventable errors. By giving prospective patients this information, groups like Leapfrog provide an incentive to hospitals to fix these errors. If a hospital knows its poor record of preventing infections will patients to choose other facilities, they will stand to lose business if they do nothing. While not every error is preventable, there are many steps that hospitals can take to protect their patients from harm.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Big Hospitals Get-and Dispute-Poor Patient-Safety Grades from Leapfrog,” by Laura Landro, 7 June 2012