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.