47% of the 2,652 hospitals tested nationwide received a grade of C or lower, and more than 40% of California hospitals received a grade of C or lower, according to a new study released by the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit group that focuses on healthcare quality. The Leapfrog Group is hoping this study, in which it got its motivation for the grading system from the restaurant health inspections, will push our nation's hospitals to do a much better job when it comes to patient safety, including preventable injuries and deaths.
Leapfrog estimates that approximately 180,000 Americans die each year from hospital errors, accidents, and infections. This study is discussed in the June 6, 2012 article in the Los Angeles Times by Chad Terhune titled, "41% of California hospitals graded C or lower on patient safety." Leapfrog's president and chief executive Leah Binder compares the urgency of these statistics to that of an airline if it experienced an airplane crash each day with a death rate of 400 passengers a day. Binder believes public pressure is critical in motivating hospital leaders to take swift action.
The article mentions a report from the Institute of Medicine in 1999 noting hospital errors were responsible for up to 98,000 deaths and more than a million injuries every year. This created a frenzy with hospitals nationwide as they worked on a series of patient safety initiatives such as hand washing procedures, electronic medical records, check lists, and other strategies. Binder believes very little progress has been made protecting patients from harm.
Leapfrog Group graded 264 hospitals in California, giving 97 hospitals an A grade, 58 a B, 83 a C, and 26 hospitals a grade lower than C. Leapfrog wants to give these below C performers a chance to demonstrate improvement before issuing them a D or F grade; they have until November to improve.
One of the California hospitals that scored below a C grade was a big name hospital, Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The California Hospital Association complimented the Leapfrog Group for making this type of safety information more available to the patients and the public, and the hospital group's chief medical officer commented, "There have been improvements and everyone would like to see a faster pace." The Leapfrog Group believes this grading system will be a huge break through for consumers, giving them access to safety scores when they are choosing a hospital.
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