Is your hospital safe? 5 states with the safest hospitals

By Naveed Saleh, MD, MS, for MDLinx
Published December 7, 2018

Key Takeaways

Have you ever looked around your hospital and wondered how safe it is? How many employees wash their hands before interacting with patients? What procedures are in place to protect your patients against medical errors? Or, is your hospital doing everything it can to fight nosocomial infections? Well, wonder no more…

In November 2018, the semiannual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which are assigned to more than 2,600 general acute-care hospitals nationwide, were published.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade doles out marks based on safety data and national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

"Taken together, those performance measures produce a single letter grade representing a hospital's overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors," Leapfrog explains on its website. "The Safety Grade includes 28 measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade methodology has been peer reviewed and published in the Journal of Patient Safety."

Physicians can use these scores in multifarious ways. First, if you're already practicing at a hospital that received any grade less than an "A," speak with administrators and find out what changes need to be made to improve hospital safety. Second, this list can help you choose where to get hospital privileges—you don't want to put your patient at risk in any setting where safety isn't a top priority. Finally, if you're already practicing at two or more hospitals, this list may help you decide which hospital is safest for patient admission and inpatient care.

Here's a countdown of the top 5 states with the most hospitals that received an "A" safety rating for the Fall 2018 cycle, as well as a couple of example institutions from each state.

5. Texas

They say everything is bigger and better in Texas. Apparently, the hospitals are safer, too.

Fall 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 43.06%

Spring 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 35.71%

Fall 2018 ranking: 5

Spring 2018 ranking: 14

Dallas Regional Medical Center. This community hospital serves the health-care needs for all of Northeast Texas. It offers round-the-clock emergency services, critical care, surgical care, and cardiac services.

Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center. It should come as no surprise that a Baylor institution would earn a top safety grade. This flagship center in Houston is closely tied to the Texas Heart Institute and Baylor College of Medicine and has a long track record of medical excellence. Somewhat surprisingly, however, many other Baylor-affiliated hospitals in Texas, including Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, did not receive "A" safety ratings.

4. Massachusetts

Massachusetts has some of the best medical schools, so it's no wonder that it also has some of the best—and safest—hospitals.

Fall 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 44.07%

Spring 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 53.57%

Fall 2018 ranking: 4

Spring 2018 ranking: 4

Massachusetts General Hospital. No surprise here. Mass General, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School, received an "A" in safety from Leapfrog. This hospital has consistently been ranked in the top 5 by U.S. News & World Report, and is the only hospital to be ranked in all 16 specialties by the publication. Furthermore, in patient surveys, Massachusetts General Hospital has scored very highly, with nearly all patients claiming that they would recommend the hospital to others.

Tufts Medical Center. This chief teaching institution for the Tufts University School of Medicine is a full-service hospital for adults and is connected to the Floating Hospital for Children. It is a Level I trauma center and is home to the largest heart transplant center in New England.

3. Virginia

Virginia is not only the birthplace of the nation but also home to plenty of safe hospitals.

Fall 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 51.52%

Spring 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 51.67%

Fall 2018 ranking: 3

Spring 2018 ranking: 5

Retreat Doctors' Hospital. This hospital is situated in Richmond's Historic Fan District and provides a range of inpatient and outpatient services to residents of Central Virginia. In particular, Retreat Doctors' Hospital is well known for high-quality urological care.

Henrico Doctors' Hospital. Retreat Doctors' Hospital is a campus of Henrico Doctors' Hospital, which also received an "A" safety rating and is located in Richmond, too. Henrico Doctors' Hospital offers a Level II Trauma Center, Women's Hospital, heart center, and cancer institute. On a related note, Henrico Doctors' Hospital has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as high-performing with regard to knee replacement, heart bypass surgery, and colon cancer surgery.

2. Oregon

In addition to its verdant surroundings and outdoor pastimes, Oregon is also known for its safe hospitals.

Fall 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 54.55%

Spring 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 41.38%

Fall 2018 ranking: 2

Spring 2018 ranking: 11

Providence Milwaukie Hospital. Offering an array of inpatient and outpatient services, this community hospital prides itself on preventive and integrative approaches to care. Notably, this organization is home to the Providence Cancer Institute, which it claims provides the best patient care for cancer on the West Coast.

Legacy Hospitals. Not all Legacy Hospital locations garnered "A" ratings, but Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center in Portland, Legacy Meridian Park Hospital in Tualatin, and Legacy Silverton Medical Center in Silverton did. Notably, Legacy Health has been lauded by the AHA and the American Stroke Association (ASA) for providing the most current research-based standards for stroke care.

1. New Jersey

Overall, hospitals in the Garden State made a huge leap to garner the top safety scores in the nation.

Fall 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 56.72%

Spring 2018 percentage of hospitals receiving an "A" safety grade: 33.85%

Fall 2018 ranking: 1

Spring 2018 ranking: 17

The Jersey City Medical Center. This regional teaching hospital serves Hudson County and proffers high-quality state-of-the-art care to cardiac patients, women and infants, patients in need of emergency services, and more. It's situated on a 15-acre campus that houses both the Wilzig Hospital and the Provident Bank Ambulatory Center. Patient rooms are large, have natural light, and offer a view of the Statue of Liberty. Notably, the Jersey City Medical Center is one of 59 hospitals to receive only "A" ratings ever since the inception of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program in 2012.

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and Children's Hospital of New Jersey. To ensure an "A" rating, this institution has improved patient care by reducing emergency-room wait times, creating private postpartum units, broadening clinical services, and targeting patient safety. On a related note, this hospital is pretty busy, with more than 1,000 heart transplants performed each year.

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