Hospital safety improves but patients still at risk as safety varies widely across nation

From the Leapfrog Group.

(The Leapfrog Group is an independent, national not-for-profit organization founded more than a decade ago by the nation’s leading employers and private healthcare experts. We strive to make giant “leaps” forward in the safety, quality and affordability of healthcare in the U.S. by promoting transparency and value-based hospital incentives.)

New research reveals that 1 in 25 patients acquire an infection in the hospital – it’s one reason more than 1000 people die each day from preventable medical errors. In fact, medical errors remain the third leading cause of death in the United States. According to newly released data, despite progress, even some premier medical institutions are falling behind when it comes to patient safety.

The Spring 2014 update to The Leapfrog Group’s (Leapfrog) Hospital Safety Score, which assigns A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,500 general hospitals nationwide based entirely on their ability to prevent errors, injuries and infections, shows that hospitals are making incremental improvements. The data reveals that nearly one-third of all hospitals have seen a 10-percent or higher improvement in performance since 2012. The majority of those “wins” are  the result of hospitals improving their processes and safe practices – such as hand hygiene, improved staffing levels and training for nurses, and administering the correct antibiotics prior to surgery.

“The data tells us that more hospitals are working harder to create a safe environment, and that’s good news for patients,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, which administers the Hospital Safety Score. “Since a ream of disappointing studies suggested that through 2010 progress in patient safety was virtually zero, the fact that we are seeing results now is notable.  It’s a reflection of the ability to galvanize change in healthcare transparency via the Hospital Safety Score and other efforts.”stethescope flag 1

Still, Binder says, with 400,000 lives lost annually, progress is too slow for a problem this hazardous to Americans. “This spring we saw 8 million people sign-up for health insurance via the Affordable Care Act, and as they launch a search for health care providers, we’re urging them to put safety first and look for an ‘A’ hospital in their area.”

The Spring 2014 data does reveal that some hospitals remain stagnant and continually rank as poor performers.  Even more shocking is that there are a number of hospitals with national name recognition with poor safety records, receiving “Cs” and “Ds” in the Hospital Safety Score.

“While these hospitals often receive accolades for their surgical teams, state-of-the-art equipment and sought after physicians, they don’t make the grade when it comes to patient safety,” added Binder. “An institution could have the best surgeons in the world, but if the aftercare is lacking and the patient develops an infection as a result, then the hospital has failed to protect its patient.”

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