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Level of Patient Safety Varies Across States, According to Rankings

Some hospitals devote a tremendous amount of time and resources to prevent medical errors and improve the overall quality of patient care. However, others appear to be more negligent when it comes to ensuring patient safety. A new report of hospital safety rankings suggests that the importance of patient safety can vary greatly from state to state.

Hospital errors cause the death of about 400 patients each day in the United States. For researchers at the Leapfrog group, a non-profit, independent organization run by purchasers and users of health care benefits, this statistic was startling enough to provoke a research initiative aimed at understand patient safety risks in hospitals across the country. The group's research led them to develop a system that ranks hospitals based on their level of overall safety.

The ranking system, called Hospital Safety Score, is based on the traditional letter-grade ranking system. "A" indicates the highest safety ranking. On the opposite end, an "F" indicates the lowest safety ranking possible. The letter grades are based on calculations made using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections. Hospital Safety Score allows patients to search hospital scores and provides information on how members of the public can protect themselves during a hospital stay.

According to Hospital Safety Score, the top ten ranked states for hospital safety are Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Illinois, Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia, Delaware, Minnesota and California.

Ranking in the bottom ten were New York, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Oregon, Missouri and Rhode Island.

Leah Binder, president of The Leapfrog Group, explained that it was interesting to see that hospitals in some parts of the country seem to be particularly focused on safety. However, for patients living in states with lower safety rankings, she recommended having conversations with their doctors about the quality of patient care being received.

While Hospital Safety Score may be a helpful tool in allowing patients to identify hospitals with low safety rankings, it is important to understand that medical errors can occur in even the safest hospitals. Oftentimes, medical errors can result in serious injury and even patient death. If you or a loved one becomes a victim of medical negligence, you may have the right to seek justice and compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source:, National State-by-State Ranking of Hospital Safety Score, June 22, 2012.

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