A Chicago hospital has failed in its attempt to sue the Leapfrog Group for defamation related to its low score, and the experience may hold a lesson for other hospitals about ensuring the accuracy of data submitted to Leapfrog Group and other ratings organizations.
A Cook County Circuit Court judge recently dismissed the lawsuit.
The lawsuit noted that Leapfrog awarded the hospital “A” grades for patient safety in its fall 2016 and spring 2017 reports, but then gave it a “C” in the fall 2017 report.
Leapfrog lowered the grade because patient medications were prescribed electronically only 50% to 74% of the time, the lawsuit claimed.
The hospital alleged in the lawsuit that it prescribed medications electronically 95% of the time.
Leapfrog had the data showing that higher rate of electronic prescribing, the lawsuit claimed. The hospital notified Leapfrog of the error several times to no avail, according to the lawsuit.
Leapfrog responded that the “C” grade was based on the hospital’s self-reported data, which had been submitted through the Leapfrog online tool, according to court documents.
The hospital reported that 60% of inpatient medication orders were processed through its computerized physician order entry, according to Leapfrog.
The hospital had a period of time to review the data it submitted but did not notify Leapfrog of any problem, Leapfrog said in its response to the lawsuit.
Leapfrog’s response to the hospital’s claim outlines this timeline:
- “On June 7, 2017, plaintiff submitted data to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey via Leapfrog’s online survey tool. Among this data, plaintiff reported that approximately 60% of inpatient medication orders are processed through its computerized physician order entry (CPOE). In making its submission, plaintiff completed an affirmation of accuracy, expressly certifying that the information submitted ‘is true, accurate, and reflects the current, normal operating circumstances at our hospital.’
- “Plaintiff, like all other hospitals that submitted data by June 30, 2017, had the opportunity to review its own Leapfrog Hospital Survey results, based entirely on its own self-reported data, for a period of two weeks before that information was published on the Leapfrog Hospital Survey website on July 25, 2017. Plaintiff raised no issues regarding its CPOE data or anything else during that time.
- “Later, Leapfrog notified all hospitals that they must complete or update their Leapfrog Hospital Survey responses by Aug. 31, 2017, for their responses to be used in scoring the Fall 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades. Again, plaintiff did not update any CPOE data prior to the deadline.
- “On Sept. 13, Leapfrog opened up a three-week data review period for hospitals receiving a Fall 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade to review all data from all sources that would be used to calculate their safety grade and to raise any concerns about those data with Leapfrog. During this period, plaintiff did not review its data and raised no issue regarding the CPOE data plaintiff provided to Leapfrog.”
Furthermore, Leapfrog claimed that 10 days after the close of the review period, the hospital logged into the Leapfrog Hospital Survey via the online survey tool but did not change any survey responses pertaining to CPOE.
The hospital also raised no objections during a two-week embargo period for hospitals to preview the Fall 2017 Safety Grade before publication, Leapfrog claims.
(The Leapfrog response is available at: https://bit.ly/2wB0Rxt.)
When the hospital filed suit the day before the fall 2017 report was published, Leapfrog agreed not to publish the hospital’s safety grade. The hospital nevertheless continued with the lawsuit.
Leapfrog attorneys argued that even though the organization stood by its “C” grade, the defamation lawsuit should be dismissed because it never published the hospital’s lower patient safety grade. The judge agreed.