Hospitals Give Leapfrog Safety Scores a Failing Grade

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , June 7, 2012

Second, Binder underscores that the measurement strategy was determined by nine of the nation's top safety experts, including Lucian Leape, MD, of Harvard; John Birkmeyer, MD, of the University of Michigan; Peter Pronovost, MD, of Johns Hopkins University; Robert Wachter, MD, of the University of California San Francisco and Ashish Jha, MD, of Harvard.

"In the long run, it is likely we will set fixed safety standards and grade hospitals against those standards, but first we need better information about what standards are reasonable and feasible. We can only know that through comparative analysis right now," she says.

The fact of the matter, she says, is that "there are significant differences among hospitals in their level of safety, and that is what is reflected in the score."

Binder says that if and when Medicare stops reporting on a measure, or the expert panel concludes it's no longer eligible for the Hospital Safety Score, "we will remove it."

As she told me several weeks ago when she described the purpose of this new scorecard: "People deserve to know that some hospitals are safer than others."


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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)




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