How Safe Is Your Hospital?
Thanks to an interactive online tool, you can now check out your hospital's safety report card. A non-profit quality improvement organization called the Leapfrog Group has assigned letter grades to a long list of institutions based on surveys and research. However, the American Hospital Association in a statement by Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety for AHA, disputed the validity of the ratings. "The American Hospital Association has supported several good quality measures, but many of the measures Leapfrog uses to grade hospitals are flawed and they do not accurately portray a picture of the safety efforts made by hospitals," she wrote.
As a rebuttal, Leapfrog panel member Ashish Jha, MD of Harvard's School of Public Healthreleased a statement saying that the panel believes the hospital safety score "is a fair metric to assess a hospital's performance on patient safety."
The controversy notwithstanding, I decided to have a look at the ratings. I clicked on the link to the free site www.HospitalSafetyScore.org and typed in "New York, New York," which is where I live. I was taken aback to learn that some of the city's top hospitals – including St. Luke's and Columbia Presbyterian where my family and I have been in-patients – received Cs. I compared the detailed explanation for those mediocre marks with the information about a couple of NYC hospitals that got As – Bellevue and NYU Langone – and was startled by what I read.
Why not visit the site yourself and see what the ratings are for your local hospitals? My gut feeling is that although the AHA hasn't endorsed the ratings, in the case of an elective admission when you have to time to choose where you want to receive care, opting for an A hospital couldn't hurt and might in fact be a choice that could positively impact your health or the health of your loved ones.