Nonprofit watchdog group releases 2017 hospital safety grades

(WANE) A nonprofit group issued its 2017 safety grades on Tuesday for hospitals across the United States. In Fort Wayne the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade issued for Lutheran and Parkview were markedly different.

The Leapfrog Group describes itself as an independent nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health system.  On its website users can search for hospitals in all 50 states to see the overall grade given to each facility based on several criteria.  Hospitals voluntarily take part in the survey and provide data to Leapfrog which is used to determine a grade.

In Fort Wayne, Parkview Regional Medical Center received an A grade, while the three facilities run by Lutheran Health Network all received a D grade.  Those facilities are Lutheran Hospital, St. Joseph Hospital and Dupont Hospital.

It’s noteworthy that the D grades were issued in part because those three facilities declined to report certain data to Leapfrog as part of the survey.  Parkview reported all the required data.  For example under the heading of “Practices to Prevent Errors,” Lutheran Hospital declined to report handwashing data and data related to how the hospital staff works together to prevent errors.

Geoff Thomas, Public Relations Supervisor for Lutheran Health Network issued this statement regarding the Leapfrog grades: response:

Lutheran Health Network places patient safety and quality care above all else. Leapfrog is one of multiple organizations reanalyzing data that is already publicly reported elsewhere. This can result in vastly different ratings from different sources. In March, Dupont Hospital was named by Truven Health Analytics / IBM Watson Health one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the country. Our network hospitals continue to take every opportunity to further enhance care. We accomplish this by tracking quality data, daily attention to process improvement, and collaboration between our employees and medical staffs.

A significant part of Leapfrog’s grading system includes data that it asks hospitals to voluntarily report. Those that don’t are penalized as part of its methodology, regardless of how effective that facility is at addressing the areas that make up this arbitrary grade. Hospitals are under no requirement to submit information to Leapfrog and LHN’s Allen County facilities do not.

Parkview issued a press release Tuesday morning touting the fact it has received nine consecutive A grades from Leapfrog.

Leapfrog has a legal disclaimer posted on its website which in part reads:

The grades are derived from expert analysis of publicly available data using 27 evidence-based, national measures of hospital safety. No specific representation is made, nor shall be implied, nor shall The Leapfrog Group be liable with respect to any individual patient’s potential or actual outcome as a result of receiving services performed at any of these hospitals.

On its website, Leapfrog claims as many as 440,000 people die every year from preventable errors in hospitals. For more about Leapfrog’s definition of patient safety, click here.

In Indiana, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) issues annual licenses for any health facility that meets the definition of a hospital as defined by state code.  Surveyors with ISDH inspect hospitals every year and more often if complaints are filed.