Avoidable deaths in US hospitals remain high


Avoidable deaths in US hospitals remain high


The Leapfrog Group, which collects and transparently reports hospital performance, has announced the Spring 2016 Hospital Safety Score update, assigning letter grades to more than 2,500 US hospitals.

These grades assess medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections. 

Of the 2,571 hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 798 earned an A, 639 earned a B, 957 earned a C, 162 earned a D and 15 earned an F.

Additionally, 153 hospitals earned the “Straight A” since 2013 designation, which calls attention to hospitals who have consistently received an A grade for safety in the last three years of Hospital Safety Scores.

Maine, which has had the highest percentage of A hospitals for the last four rounds of the Score, dipped to second behind Vermont, where 83 percent of its hospitals achieved an A. This is the first time Vermont has claimed the number-one spot.

Alternatively, for the third year, zero hospitals in the District of Columbia received an A grade. Similarly, Arkansas and Wyoming had no hospitals with an A grade.

Leapfrog contracted with Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality on a new report estimating the number of avoidable deaths at hospitals in each grade level. The analysis finds that despite considerable improvement in the safety of hospital care since the Score’s launch in 2012, avoidable deaths remain high. 

Findings point to a 9 percent higher risk of avoidable death in B hospitals, 35 percent higher in C hospitals, and 50 percent higher in D and F hospitals, than in A hospitals.

The analysis was led by Matt Austin, PhD, assistant professor at the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality and the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. 

In total, the analysis showed an estimated 206,021 avoidable deaths occur in US hospitals each year, a figure described as an underestimate in the analysis because the measure only accounts for a subset of avoidable harms patients may encounter in the hospital.

 Of the 206,021 avoidable deaths occurring in all hospitals, 162,117 occur in B, C, D, and F hospitals. The analysis concluded an estimated 33,439 lives could be saved each year if all hospitals had the same performance as those receiving an A.

The April 2016 update highlights newly-added patient experience measures shown in the research to have a relationship to improved patient safety outcomes. These include results of patient surveys about: communication about medicines, communication about discharge, nurse communication, doctor communication, and responsiveness of hospital staff. Additionally, for the first time, the Score includes two new infection measures, MRSA Bacteremia and C.difficile.

“It is time for every hospital in America to put patient safety at the top of their priority list, because tens of thousands of lives are stake,” said Leah Binder, president and chief executive officer of The Leapfrog Group. “The Hospital Safety Score alerts consumers to the dangers, but as this analysis shows, even A hospitals are not perfectly safe.”

The Leapfrog Group, Hospital performance, Spring 2016 Hospital Safety Score, Johns Hopkins Medicine’s Armstrong Institute, Healthcare, US