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.