How Safe Are the Hospitals You’re Going To?

December 04, 2018

“Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States” - The Leapfrog Group

The Leapfrog Group, the nation’s leading assessor of hospital safety, released their fall 2018 findings of the nation’s hospitals. The study assessed more than 2,600 general acute care hospitals across the country and gave them scores according to the findings. In essence, the study asked how well hospitals are doing in keeping their patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.

Who Conducted the Study?

The Leapfrog Group is a Washington-based watchdog non-profit dedicated to “empowering patients and purchasers to choose the right hospital.” Every year, they update their Hospital Safety Grade twice to reflect their findings. They compile data on the quality of health care in hospitals across the nation and give them a composite grade based on 28 measures. Scores are given as A, B, C, D and F letter grades.

Why Do They Conduct This Study?

With this study, they hope to address the 500+ deaths caused by preventable medical errors and infections in hospitals every day. Some hospitals make patient safety their top priority. They put checks in place to prevent errors and do their best to reduce infection rates. Some don’t. You deserve to know which hospitals have made patient safety their top priority.

Leapfrog aims to inform consumers so they can choose their health care providers accordingly. They also aim to keep hospitals and other health care providers accountable to the public.  

How Did North Carolina Do?

The Hospital Safety Grade ranked hospitals in the state as among the best in patient safety. You can see a map here. Nearly 75% of hospitals in North Carolina scored an A or a B, which is higher than the national average. Broken down:

  • 43% were rated as “A” hospitals
  • 28% were “B” hospitals
  • 29% were “C” hospitals
  • No one made a “D” or an “F”
  • All Triangle hospitals but one received an “A”

Always remember that you can ask your doctor what your hospital is doing to keep patients safe from medical errors, injuries, accidents, and infections. You have a choice in where you receive your care.

Leapfrog says that the most important measures you should focus on are handwashing (does the staff have a handwashing policy?), infection in the blood (look at your hospital’s numbers), and patient falls (is the hospital doing anything to prevent falls from happening?).  

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

The grades for this study are not always current. Because the study is based on hospital reports made publicly available, the scorecard tends to use slightly outdated information. Also, each hospital’s score is relative to other hospitals. So, a dip in their grade from the previous assessment doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve gotten worse. It could just mean another hospital made improvements that worked.

New to the fall 2018 study is Leapfrog’s examination of whether the hospital used the Bar Code Medication Administration (BCMA). The BCMA is designed to reduce the risk of health care professionals accidentally giving patients the wrong medication.

The North Carolina Coalition for Fiscal Health

We at the NC Coalition for Fiscal Health are always vigilant of how healthcare costs affect North Carolinians. Have the sky-high costs of healthcare in our state impacted you and/or your family’s lives? Do you want to do something about it? Join the Coalition now to receive updates about new legislation and policies that will affect YOUR healthcare. Sign up now!


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