How to Use the Grade
Many hospitals have world-renowned doctors and equipment, but not all hospitals prioritize their patient's safety above all else. You deserve to know which hospitals do the best at protecting their patients from harm. That's why we developed the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. This tool can help guide your decision in a number of situations:
- Has your doctor referred you or a family member to a hospital for surgery?
- Are you preparing to have a baby?
- Is someone in your family suffering from chronic illness that could require immediate or consistent hospital care?
- Is your choice of hospital solely based on location or word-of-mouth?
The Safety Grade rates hospitals on the very basics of medical care, such as handwashing, entering prescriptions through a computer, and the availability of highly-trained nurses. So no matter the reason for a hospital visit, safety should be your number one concern.
Which hospital do I pick?
Choosing your hospital is a matter of personal preference, but we know “A” hospitals do a better job at preventing errors. If your local hospital rates below an “A,” talk with your doctor at that hospital and urge them to improve their safety. If all your local hospitals score poorly, use these Safety Grades to start a conversation with hospital leadership and local policymakers about improving hospital safety.
A small number of hospitals have consistently achieved "A" grades--an impressive feat. These hospitals are denoted with the “Straight A’s” logo in recognition of their achievement of the highest standards of patient safety year after year. We hope all hospitals will strive to offer this level of dependable care.
You should never refuse care in an emergency because of a hospital’s Safety Grade, but use this website as a guide for planned events and a research tool for potential emergencies.
What measures are most important?
Every person will have different ideas about what is most important to them, but we suggest checking out whether your hospital scores well on:
- Handwashing Does your hospital have a handwashing policy to ensure all staff members are washing their hands before and after patient contact?
- Infection in the blood during ICU stay If a patient is in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), he or she may be given a central line (a tube inserted into the body to deliver medication and other treatments). Patients with a central line are at high risk for developing a dangerous infection in the blood. Is your hospital showing a low number on this measure?
- Training to improve safety Doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff must all learn to work together to prevent harm. Is your hospital providing training to teach the hospital team to help each other, and that teaches leaders to listen to staff at all levels?
- Patient falls What is your hospital doing to ensure you don’t suffer an added injury from a fall while in the hospital?
What about past grades?
Since 2012, Leapfrog has released Safety Grades twice per year for over 2,600 hospitals across the U.S. To be as transparent as possible, we make those past grades available, just by clicking on “Show Recent Past Grades” underneath a hospital’s current grade.
Displaying past grades makes it clear which hospitals consistently achieve high standards of patient safety and which have demonstrated a steady path of improvement. Patients should always decide on where to receive care based on a hospital’s current Safety Grade. However, past grades can tell you a lot about that hospital’s track record in keeping its patients safe from errors, injuries, accidents and infections. Keeping an eye on your local hospital’s Safety Grades over time also makes it easier to spot patterns—whether a hospital is working to improve or has allowed its focus on safety to slip.
If you’re concerned about past grades, ask your doctor what your hospital is doing to keep its patients safe. Remember, you have a choice of where to receive care. And you deserve to be in the safest hospital possible.
We don’t have Safety Grades for every hospital. Here’s why:
Certain hospitals are not required to publicly report their safety record, which means that our experts don't have enough information to issue them a Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade. These hospitals include:
- Maryland hospitals
- Specialty hospitals, such as children’s hospitals and surgical centers
- Critical access hospitals
- Hospitals in Guam and Puerto Rico
Additionally, many hospitals are not able to provide data to the federal government because they are too small, or lack the necessary data—like military and veteran’s hospitals. Leapfrog experts are studying ways to rate them in the future.