Hospital Safety Grades – How Safe are Hospitals?

large brick hospital buildingHospitals are where we go to seek care and treatment. Many of us go fully expecting to heal and come home better than when we went in. And no one goes expecting to get sicker. And while all hospitals have policies and procedures in place to reduce a patient’s risk to dangerous pathogens, infections and potential medical errors, no hospital is perfect – and some are worse than others.

How safe are hospitals? How can you know which hospitals have good safety records? Fortunately, The Leapfrog Group publishes their hospital safety grade report twice a year. The Fall of 2017 report shows that although there have been some significant improvements, it’s not a pretty picture overall.

What is the Leapfrog Group?

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety, and transparency in the U.S. health system. Their Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is provided as a public service.

How does the Leapfrog Group rate hospitals?

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. It is updated every six months, once in the Fall and once in the Spring. Letter grades of A, B, C, D or F are assigned.

In addition to individual hospital grades, each state is ranked according to their percentage of “A” hospitals.

Why is it so important to know hospital safety ratings?

Preventable, hospital based medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. (#1 is heart disease, #2 is cancer).

Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog states that people deserve to know which hospitals are best at preventing errors and infections. I strongly agree.

What kinds of safety hazards exist in hospitals?

Unfortunately, there are many potential safety hazards in hospitals including:

  • Patient misidentification
  • Exposure to pathogens
  • Medication errors
  • Unnecessary Testing
  • Missed bedside alarms
  • Transition of care errors (miscommunications)
  • Patient falls
  • Bed sores

What were the overall findings?

pie chart showing how many hospitals received grades A through F



Of the 2,632 general acute-care hospitals graded:

  • 832 scored an A (31.6%)
  • 662 scored a B (25.1%)
  • 964 scored a C (36.6%)
  • 159 scored a D (6.0%)
  • 15 scored an F (0.5%)




Good news – there are consistent “A” hospitals.

59 hospitals nationwide have achieved an “A” in every scoring update since Safety Grade first began in Spring 2012.

Where are the hospitals that received “F” grades?

California, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, and New York each had hospitals that received “F” grades.

Which states had the highest percentage of hospitals receiving an “A” grade?

Rhode Island, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and Virginia.

Which states had the lowest percentage of hospitals receiving an “A” grade?

North Dakota, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland and New York.

Which states showed significant improvements?

Oregon, Rhode Island, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Idaho all showed significant improvements since this grading started in 2012.

Amazingly, Rhode Island moved from 50th in 2012 to 1st in this recent report!

Look up hospital scores – it’s time well spent.

You can, and should, look up hospital scores before you decide which hospital to use. Go to to the Leapfrog Group website to easily look up safety grades for hospitals that you use, or plan to use. Of course, in emergency situations, you should go to the hospital that can handle your condition and is nearby.

Learn more…

To learn what you can do, as a patient or family caregiver, to reduce your risk of hospital safety hazards, read these posts:


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