Most of the 60 Kentucky hospitals graded on a nonprofit group’s report card for patient safety got a grade of C.

The Leapfrog Group, based in Washington, D.C., rates nearly 3,000 general acute-care hospitals based on how well they protect patients. Most of Kentucky’s 126 hospitals are relatively small and are not rated.

The group does not grade small hospitals with “critical access” status because they don’t have to report quality measures to the federal government; nor does it grade specialty hospitals, government hospitals, or hospitals that don’t have enough publicly reported data.

Leapfrog gave A ratings to 11 Kentucky hospitals, or 18.3% of the 60 it graded; Kentucky ranked 36th among states in the percentage of A grades, about the same as 35th in the last report. It gave Bs to 16 Kentucky hospitals (including Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center), Cs to 23 and Ds to 10.

The grades are based on more than 30 measures that indicate how well hospitals protect patients from preventable errors, injuries, accidents and infections, and whether hospitals have systems in place to prevent them.

A Leapfrog news release notes that this is the 10th anniversary of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report and that an analysis of data gathered from 2012 to 2022 suggests there has been an improvement in patient safety over time, with a 27% decrease in falls and trauma, and a nearly 29% decrease in objects being unintentionally left in bodies after surgery. Further, it found decreases in infections associated with health care.

“For five of the outcome measures that can be tracked, these improvements saved an estimated more than 16,000 lives over the 10-year period,” the release says.

The report uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Leapfrog’s own survey and other supplemental data sources. Leapfrog says hospitals are only graded if they have submitted adequate data for evaluation.

The Leapfrog site offers details on a number of measures, under headings titled Infections, Problems with Surgery, Practices to Prevent Errors, Safety Problems, and Doctors, Nurses and Hospital Staff. It also includes an easy-to-read, color-coded scale that indicates how the hospital is performing.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Kentucky.

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