A national hospital safety group is asking Americans to imagine this: The populations of Miami or Atlanta are simply wiped out. That’s how many Americans die every year from preventable hospital errors – up to 440,000 patients, making such errors the third-leading cause of death in the country.
The Leapfrog Group, an employer-led hospital watchdog organization, ranks how well hospitals prevent medical errors, assigning letter grades to medical centers across the U.S. For the second year in a row, Maine leads the nation, according to the newest batch of Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Scores.
In Maine, 74 percent of hospitals, or 14 out of 19 ranked, earned an “A” grade, making the state tops in the country. Massachusetts came in second, with 70 percent. No Maine hospital earned less than a C grade, according to the new rankings, released Wednesday.
In five states — Alaska, the District of Columbia, Idaho, Nebraska and Wyoming –no hospitals received an “A” in the updated scores.
The letter grades reflect the risk that a patient could be harmed by a preventable medical error while hospitalized. Leapfrog assigns A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals, urging patients to use the rankings to protect themselves from errors, accidents, injuries and infections.
Leah Binder, a Maine native and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, credited the work of the Maine Health Management Coalition, a nonprofit made up of private employers, hospitals, health plans, doctors, and others that measures and reports health care cost and quality data.
“In states where we see some of the highest Hospital Safety Scores, we see strong public-private partnerships to promote safety,” Binder said in a press release. “The Maine Health Management Coalition has been a leader in advancing transparency and using data to drive change.”
Leapfrog assesses public data on measures including falls, bed sores and how consistently hospitals follow recommended treatment protocols, such as administering antibiotics to patients within an hour before surgery.
Three Maine hospitals — in Ellsworth, Portland, and Sanford — saw their rank drop by a letter grade. The rest maintained their rankings from last fall. For the complete list, click here.
Leapfrog’s scores are part of a growing effort nationally to help consumers become better-informed health care shoppers. The group is just one among a number of nonprofit groups and companies offering rankings on health care quality. Consumer Reports, for example, also rates hospital safety, while U.S. News and World Report singles out hospitals as national and regional leaders for certain types of care and procedures.
Each organization devises its own criteria and scoring formulas, so hospitals may perform well on one while flopping on another.
“Maine hospitals continue to have much to be proud of,” Andrew Webber, CEO of the Maine Health Management Coalition, said in the press release.