Healthcare News & Insights

‘Hospital Safety Scores’ updated: What’s your grade?


Kids who don’t get good grades in school probably aren’t very excited at report card time. The same holds true for hospitals now that the “Hospital Safety Scores” have been updated. When they were originally introduced back in June, hospitals that received grades of “Ds” and “Fs” weren’t identified — no such luck this time.

Now, the Hospital Safety Scores, which are based on preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections, list the hospitals who’ve received failing grades. These hospitals, according to The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit quality improvement organization that created the scores, “represent the most hazardous environments for patients in need of care.”

Hospital scores

Originally, of the 2,651 hospitals that were issued a Hospital Safety Score, 1,200 received a C or below. This time around 2,618 hospitals were graded and here’s how they did:

  • 790 got an A
  • 678 earned a B
  • 1,004 got a C
  • 121 earned a D, and
  • 25 got an F.

According to Leapfrog, the scores were “complied under the guidance of the nation’s leading experts on patient safety,” and administered by Leapfrog.

The grades are based on how each hospital scores on 26 separate measures, which are used by national measurement and reporting programs. The measure set is divided into two domains: process/structural measures and outcome measures. Each domain represents 50% of the Hospital Safety Score. (For a more detailed scoring methodology, click here.)

Drawing ire

While there are other hospital rating systems around, this is the first that offers the information free to the public with an analysis of the data and methodology used to calculate each hospital’s score. So of course, it’s going to upset the hospitals who didn’t score well.

One prestigious facility that received an F, is UCLA hospital.

In an interview with HealthLeaders Media, Dr. Tom Rosenthal, UCLA hospital’s chief medical officer said, “UCLA is clearly not an ‘F’ hospital in quality and safety. And if UCLA is not an ‘F’ hospital, it seems to me there must be flaws in the Leapfrog methodology.”

He has a point, but The Leapfrog Group expected the backlash from hospitals that didn’t get good grades.

“Leapfrog’s primary mission is to create a more transparent healthcare system, where consumers can access the information they need to make critical decisions about where to seek care … ,” noted Keith Reissaus, board chair of The Leapfrog Group. “Leapfrog is unbiased in telling the whole truth about how hospitals are doing, no matter how much discomfort that causes many of them. Consumers deserve ‘A’ hospitals and someday we may see all hospitals earning ‘A’s.’ However, we are not there yet.”

AHA weighs in

But even the American Hospital Association (AHA) wasn’t happy when the Hospital Safety Scores first came out. The AHA called Leapfrog’s measures flawed and an inaccurate representation of what hospitals are doing to keep patients safe.

Since then, Leapfrog has made adjustments to their methodology incorporating some of the AHA initial complaints.

However, the AHA still has concerns that Leapfrog is using outdated data.

Subscribe Today

Get the latest and greatest healthcare news and insights delivered to your inbox.