Latest Hospital Safety Scores Show Incremental Progress in Patient Safety

May 8, 2013

When it comes to patient safety, all hospitals and U.S. states aren't created equal, according to the newly updated Hospital Safety Score. The Spring 2013 update to the Hospital Safety Score that assigns A, B, C, D, and F grades to more than 2,500 general hospitals in the United States showed hospitals have made only incremental progress in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt their patients. The Hospital Safety Score methodology is fully transparent and has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety.

The Leapfrog Group, an independent, national nonprofit organization that administers the Score, confirms this has contributed to a shift in how the U.S. states are ranked for hospital safety. With 80 percent of its hospitals receiving an A Maine edged out Massachusetts as the number one state for safety. Joining Maine and Massachusetts in the top five ranking for number of A Scores are Minnesota, Virginia and Illinois.

In the U.S., roughly one in four of all hospitalized patients suffers some form of harm*. "Safety is a 24/7, 365-day effort. This update of grades and accompanying change in state rankings should serve as a reminder that we are on an ongoing journey," says Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog. "Patient safety shouldn't be merely a concern; it should be a priority. Everyone, including consumers, hospitals, patients, families of patients, unions and employers has a role in improving safety in American hospitals."

Individuals can check their local hospital's Hospital Safety Score online or on the free mobile app at They should discuss the Hospital Safety Score with their doctor and plan to remain vigilant, even in hospitals with A Scores. A full analysis of the data and methodology used is available at

The Hospital Safety Score is the only publicly accessible standard of hospital safety available free to the public. Calculated under the guidance of Leapfrog's eight-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score methodology has been analyzed in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety. The Score uses 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single grade representing a hospital's overall success in keeping patients safe from infections, injuries, and medical and medication errors. The panel includes: John Birkmeyer (University of Michigan), Ashish Jha (Harvard University), Arnold Milstein (Stanford University), Peter Pronovost (Johns Hopkins University), Patrick Romano (University of California, Davis), Sara Singer (Harvard University), Tim Vogus (Vanderbilt University), and Robert Wachter (University of California, San Francisco).

Key Findings

  • Of the 2,514 general hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 780 earned an A, 638 earned a B, 932 earned a C, 148 earned a D and 16 earned an F.
  • A total of 1.9 percent of hospitals showed dramatic change in their Hospital Safety Score, moving two or more grade levels up or down. Approximately 73.9 percent of hospitals maintained the same Score from November 2012.
  • The states with the smallest percentage of A hospitals include Nevada, Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia and New Mexico, which holds the lowest percentage at 6.7 percent.
  • The largest change in an individual safety measure was the Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) measure, which rose from 29 to 34. CPOE technology reduces the number of errors related to handwriting or transcription and provides error checking for incorrect doses and tests.
  • A range of hospitals earned As, with no one class of hospitals (i.e., teaching hospitals, public hospitals, etc.) dominating among those showing the highest safety Scores. Hospitals earning an A include academic medical centers Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston and Mayo Clinic. Many rural hospitals earned an A, including Geisinger Medical Center and Blessing Hospital.
  • Hospitals with myriad national accolades, such as Duke University Hospital, earned an A.
  • A Scores were also earned by hospitals serving highly vulnerable, impoverished and/or health-challenged populations, such as Detroit Receiving Hospital.

For more information about the Hospital Safety Score or to view the list of state rankings, please visit


*Adverse Events in Hospitals: National Incidence Among Medicare Beneficiaries; Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General; November 2010

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