A little less than half of St. Louis hospitals recently earned average to below-average grades for patient safety.
The Leapfrog Group is an independent, non-profit patient safety organization. For 10 years it has been grading hospitals on patient safety and steps to prevent serious medical errors. It issues grades twice a year, in the spring and fall. It recently issued its Fall 2022 hospital grades.
Leapfrog states that most hospital medical errors can be prevented and notes that 1,000 hospital patients die every day due to a preventable medical mistake. A 2016 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine study concluded that medical errors are the third-leading cause of death in the United States.
Leapfrog differentiates between hospital patient safety and quality care, with patient safety focusing on measures that prevent unnecessary and potentially catastrophic patient harm from medical errors.
Common Medical Errors
Leapfrog evaluates hospitals using several benchmarks, all relating to preventable medical errors, which include:
- Hospital-acquired infections
- Surgical errors
- Patient falls
- Medication errors
The hospital patient safety grades follow school letter grades, with “A” being the best and “F” a failing grade.
Nearly Half of St. Louis Hospitals Have Average to Below Average Safety Grades
There are 26 St. Louis-area hospitals – those within a 50-mile radius of downtown St. Louis – in Leapfrog’s Fall 2022 safety grades. Twelve St. Louis hospitals received a “C” or “D” grade, which is 46% of the local medical centers Leapfrog evaluated.
Half of the Missouri hospitals in the Leapfrog database earned average to below-average patient safety grades.
One factor in the Leapfrog grades is a hospital’s commitment to preventing medical errors. According to the organization, medical errors are more likely to occur in hospitals where leadership does not make safety a priority.
Leaders in safer hospitals acknowledge patient safety issues, work with doctors and nurses to fix medical errors, and hold them accountable for improving patient safety and eliminating unsafe practices.
Hospital Practices that Prevent Medical Errors
Leapfrog highlights hospital practices that prevent medical errors. These include:
- Clear and thorough communication with patients at discharge
- Health care providers washing their hands before touching a patient, which reduces spread of potentially dangerous germs
- Doctors using computerized systems when ordering medications that warn doctors about dosage errors or other potential mistakes
Safer hospitals, according to Leapfrog, foster good communication among caregivers as part of a culture of safety designed to prevent dangerous medical errors. These hospitals survey doctors and nurses to determine how well they work together. Cohesive care-giver teams are more likely to prevent medical mistakes.
Hospitals that earned an average to below average grade for protecting patients from preventable harm have room for improvement. Until they fully commit to patient safety and take further steps to improve their culture of safety, patients may be at needless risk.
Hospitals that make preventable mistakes that gravely harm patients may be held accountable. If you or a loved one were harmed during medical care, turn to a personal injury lawyer to investigate on your behalf.
The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.
Authored by Gray Ritter Graham. Posted in Blog November 28, 2022.