Leapfrog Group Finds ‘Significant’ Safety Improvement Over 10 Years
Hospitals in the United States have improved patient safety measures significantly over the past decade, according to the latest report from the Leapfrog Group.1
Along with its recent release of hospital report cards, Leapfrog studied historical ratings and found “a consistent pattern of better performance” across 10 measures continuously reported by hospitals since 2009.
“Measures used in the Hospital Safety Grade have changed over time, but measures that could be reliably tracked over the decade show a consistent pattern of better performance,” Leapfrog reported. “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.”
Two measures that both decreased by around 25% were “falls and trauma” and incidents of objects unintentionally left in a body after surgery. In addition, reported rates of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus decreased by 22%, and central line-associated bloodstream infections by 43%. Clostridioides difficile infection rates decreased by 8%.
The COVID-19 pandemic led to poorer performance on some safety measures, but the look back on prior years is more encouraging, says Missy Danforth, vice president of healthcare ratings with The Leapfrog Group.
Over the past 10 years — and, in part, thanks to the Affordable Care Act — hospitals have been mandated to report many more patient-based quality metrics to CMS, Danforth notes. Publicly reporting those data has been significant in many ways, and the reports by Leapfrog and other groups has brought a lot of attention to performance on those measures. That public exposure has driven much of the improvement in hospitals.
A retrospective study conducted five years from now will show the effects of the pandemic, with a dip in patient safety measures from 2020 to 2022, Danforth says. The good news is there are more structures in place now to provide hospitals the technical support they need to maintain quality when dealing with staff shortages and other challenges. One question is whether state hospital associations and other organizations can pivot to help hospitals with what is needed today rather than what was needed 10 years ago.
The 10-year results are encouraging, but hospitals cannot let their guard down on patient safety. “We’re still seeing that there’s a lot of work to do in hospitals related to hand hygiene, which is more than just reduced spread of these certain healthcare-associated infections. It reduces the spread of other healthcare-associated infections as well, including things that are going on in hospitals now, like COVID-19, flu, and RSV,” Danforth says. “We also need to focus on the measurement of communities and looking at some of the structures that we need hospitals to have in place to protect patients from the next major healthcare emergency.”
- The Leapfrog Group. Leapfrog Group releases new Hospital Safety Grades, marking 10th anniversary. Nov. 16, 2022.
- Missy Danforth, Vice President of Healthcare Ratings, The Leapfrog Group, Washington, DC. Phone: (202) 292-6713.
Hospitals in the United States have improved patient safety measures significantly over the past decade, according to the latest report from the Leapfrog Group.
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