A new report from the Leapfrog Group couldn’t be more timely given the attention hospitals have received recently on the need to improve patient safety, particularly infection-control procedures.
On Wednesday, Leapfrog released a report showing a lack of progress on patient outcomes and a decline on certain patient-safety measures, such as preventing surgical site infections during major colon surgery.
The data also show that hospitals made improvements in processes and safe practices, such as instituting hand-hygiene policies and physician staffing in intensive care units. For the safety scores of 2,500 general hospitals, Leapfrog assigns A, B, C, D and F grades based on a hospital’s ability to prevent errors, injuries and infections.
At Health Journalism 2012, Harvard’s Ashish K. Jha, M.D., M.P.H., told attendees to watch for new hospital report cards from The Leapfrog Group that were going to be both comprehensive and consumer-friendly. Jha and some other top health quality/safety people were among the project’s advisers.
People can understand letter grades – A through F. The idea is that a comprehensive approach – an overall grade – is more useful in the sense that, if a hospital gives fabulous and safe cardiac care, it doesn’t mean that a patient won’t get an avoidable infection during, say, a routine hernia operation or have a cesarean section that wasn’t unambiguously necessary.
Well, it turns out that the ratings aren’t just a tool in the whole consumer/quality movement. Some of the links at the end of this post can tell you more about the limits of these proprietary report cards versus public data – but consumers are seeing more and more of these “report cards” and you can use them for stories too. Continue reading