Leapfrog Group recognizes top hospitals for patient safety

Nearly 150 hospitals are recognized for quality and efforts to improve safety and transparency.

The Leapfrog Group has named its 2021 recipients of the group’s annual Top Hospital Award, which puts a prime focus on patient safety.

The group selected 149 top hospitals from across the country and announced the recipients Tuesday morning. The organization touts its honors as “the nation’s most competitive recognition for excellence in hospital safety and quality.”

A national nonprofit organization founded by large employers, the group has been producing the annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey for two decades. The group examines surgery outcomes, infection rates, safety in giving medications and other criteria.

The aim is to provide patients with information on safety when they make decisions about where they want to get treatment.

The top hospitals demonstrated a remarkable commitment to patient safety and transparency, especially given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Erica Mobley, vice president of administration of The Leapfrog Group.

“Hospitals that have been forthcoming and transparent with their performance, in the midst of COVID, really do deserve credit for that,” Mobley said in a phone interview.

The Leapfrog Group has been conducting the survey for 20 years.

More than 2,200 hospitals participated in the group’s 2021 survey, far above the initial survey, which covered about 200 hospitals. The survey has grown each year, Mobley said.

The goal of the Leapfrog survey is to “capture information that’s important to consumers and employers and purchasers that isn’t available anywhere else,” Mobley said.

For the first time this year, the survey included data on hospitals performing the Norwood Procedure, a complex heart surgery on babies.

Leapfrog also surveys hospitals on their policies and how they handle rare medical errors, often dubbed “never events,” such as leaving an object in a patient or operating on the wrong body part. Hospitals are asked about policies such as how they review such events, whether apologies are offered and how they address the costs for patients.

“This is a really important thing that isn’t really captured in a lot of health care ratings,” Mobley said.

Hospital infections have seen an uptick, Mobley said, which seems to align with a CDC study in September that showed an increase. Before the pandemic, studies showed a decline of infections occurring in hospitals.

“That’s an area we’re going to keep watching and hoping this will be a temporary blip,” Mobley said.

Mobley said she was encouraged by the strong participation from hospitals this year. She said she had wondered if fewer hospitals would participate in the survey, given the demands of the pandemic.

“It’s important to put this information forward for the community and for the employers and purchasers who rely on their services,” Mobley said.

The Top Hospitals are recognized in four categories: general hospitals (46 recipients), rural hospitals (23 recipients), teaching hospitals (72 recipients), and children’s hospitals (8 recipients). The full results are on The Leapfrog Group’s website.

Mobley said the work of rural hospitals deserves recognition.

“Rural hospitals have a unique set of challenges, limited staffing and resources,” Mobley said. “We’re really happy we can acknowledge those hospitals still providing high quality safe care even with the challenges of being a rural hospital.”

California, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania were the states with the most Top Hospitals, with ten or more top hospitals in each state.