Special Report

The States with the Safest Hospitals

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 50,000 to 100,000 patients die in U.S. hospitals each year as the result of lapses in safety. Recently, the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit promoting transparency and safety in hospitals, released its first-ever Hospital Safety Score. The study analyzed data from 2,652 hospitals from across the country based on 26 different safety-related measures. Each hospital received a score of A, B or C. Grades for hospitals receiving D and F have not yet been finalized.

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Some states have much safer hospital systems than others. In several states, 40% or more of reporting hospitals received the best possible score. In others, not one hospital scored better than a B. Based on Leapfrog’s report, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the largest percentage of hospitals receiving an A.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Melissa Danforth, Interim Senior Director of Leapfrog’s Hospital Ratings, explained the importance of the report compared to other national hospital rankings. “The Hospital Safety Score is unique,” according to Danforth, because Leapfrog only considers what puts a patient’s safety at risk, instead of “looking at the reputation of the hospital.” Danforth said, “We’re really looking to, and wanting to draw attention to, things that could happen to you in a hospital that could kill you.”

Danforth explained that hospitals that received an A grade tended to have close to perfect scores for particular safety measures. Incidence of patient falls, trauma, including broken bones or injuries that occur during a patient’s stay, and the likelihood of receiving a central-line associated bloodstream infection (CABSI) — a dangerous infection that can occur during certain procedures — are particularly low among the safest hospitals.

Similarly, the states with the highest percentage of hospitals receiving an A performed better on these important measures compared to the national average. For most of the states on this list, incidents of falls, trauma and CABSIs are below the national average. In Massachusetts, one of the states with the safest hospitals, incidence of particularly bad bedsores — another critical safety measure — is one-third the national rate.

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States with the healthiest hospitals do not necessarily have healthy populations. In addition to the safety scores provided by Leapfrog, 24/7 Wall St. also considered a variety of health-related metrics from statehealthfacts.org, part of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Life expectancy, incidence of cancer and diabetes, and heart disease mortality rates were no better in the states with the safest hospitals than the national average.

These are the states with the safest hospitals.

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