By Ali­son Laevey

Knowl­edge Ben­e­fits’ trust­ed con­tent part­ner, The Leapfrog Group, just released Hos­pi­tal Safe­ty Grades, a bian­nu­al report of hos­pi­tal errors, acci­dents, and infec­tions. It’s impor­tant infor­ma­tion to have about the hos­pi­tals in your area to ensure the best care for your own fam­i­ly and those of your employ­ees. Med­ical errors, acci­dents, injuries, and infec­tions are the third lead­ing cause of death in the Unit­ed States. As a health­care pur­chas­er, shouldn’t you know which hos­pi­tals per­form bet­ter than oth­ers?

It’s been almost 20 years since the Insti­tute for Med­i­cine released its report on med­ical errors, To Err is Human. At the time, it was esti­mat­ed that 44,000 to 98,000 peo­ple died each year due to pre­ventable med­ical errors. A more recent report by Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­si­ty esti­mat­ed more than 250,000 peo­ple per year die from med­ical errors, with med­ica­tion errors being the biggest cause of death.

Safe Hospital Grades

A 2016 Leapfrog white paper esti­mat­ed that 33,459 lives would be saved each year if every hos­pi­tal per­formed as well as “A”-rated hos­pi­tals. The paper notes that “while “A” hos­pi­tals have bet­ter per­for­mance on safe­ty than hos­pi­tals with low­er grades, they still have oppor­tu­ni­ties for improve­ment and to save lives.” Com­pared to “A” hos­pi­tals, the risk of dying is 8.5% high­er at “B” hos­pi­tals, 35.2% high­er at “C” hos­pi­tals, and almost 50% high­er at “D” and “F” hos­pi­tals. That’s a big risk to take with your family’s lives.

To help edu­cate employ­ers about hos­pi­tal safe­ty, Knowl­edge Ben­e­fits cre­at­ed a free online course in part­ner­ship with The Leapfrog Group called Master­ing the Val­ue Equa­tion: Sav­ing Lives, Sav­ing Dol­lars. The ques­tion most often answered incor­rect­ly is about hos­pi­tal-acquired infec­tions, or HACs. Most learn­ers under­es­ti­mate the per­cent­age of patients affect­ed by HACs. Accord­ing to the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol, patients have a one in 25 chance of devel­op­ing a hos­pi­tal-acquired infec­tion. With more than 35 mil­lion admis­sions to U.S. hos­pi­tals in 2016, that’s 1.4 mil­lion patients who acquired an infec­tion.

Accord­ing to Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder, there “are signs of many hos­pi­tals mak­ing sig­nif­i­cant improve­ments in their patient safe­ty record.” Pub­lic report­ing and demands from pur­chasers are some of the ways to influ­ence hos­pi­tals to improve safe­ty. Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Hos­pi­tal Asso­ci­a­tion, there are more than 4,800 com­mu­ni­ty hos­pi­tals in the U.S. in 2018. The cur­rent Leapfrog sur­vey rat­ed 2,400 hos­pi­tals. Leapfrog is not able to grade some dif­fer­ent types of hos­pi­tals includ­ing VA, pedi­atric, and Crit­i­cal Access Hos­pi­tals. Ben­e­fits admin­is­tra­tion pro­fes­sion­als can begin by check­ing the report for their local hos­pi­tals and if they’re not includ­ed, demand they com­plete the Leapfrog sur­vey.

Knowledge Benefits course on hospital safety

Sign up and take the free course on hos­pi­tal safe­ty today. You will enjoy the course, learn more about hos­pi­tal safe­ty, and earn a free SHRM recer­ti­fi­ca­tion cred­it.