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Northern Virginia hospitals ranked among safest, according to Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade

June 2, 2019

Northern Virginia ranks at the top in the annual Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, with suburban Maryland getting a middling score and the District trailing near the bottom of the nationwide survey.

Overall, Virginia ranked second in the country, following Oregon, on safety measures such as staff responsiveness and hand hygiene, with all hospitals assessed in the report receiving scores of A or B.

Hospitals within Northern Virginia’s Inova Health System Inova Mount Vernon Hospital, Inova Alexandria Hospital, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Inova Fair Oaks Hospital and Inova Loudoun Hospital all scored A’s. The Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington also received an A.

Reston Hospital Center and Fauquier Hospital scored B’s.

In total, 35 Virginia hospitals received A’s from Leapfrog, and the state moved from No. 3 to No. 2 since last fall, said Julian Walker, vice president of communications for the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association.

“These grades are a positive reflection of the health care quality and patient safety improvement work occurring at community hospitals and health systems throughout the Commonwealth,” Mr. Walker said. “The goal of VHHA and its members is to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”

Meanwhile, Maryland ranked 30th, moving up from 38th last fall. Hospitals across the state, including those in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, received grades from A to D.

Suburban Hospital was the only local Maryland facility to receive an A. Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, Adventist HealthCare Adventist Hospital and MedStar Montgomery Medical Center scored B’s.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center and Fort Washington Medical Center scored C’s.

University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center and Doctors Community Hospital scored D’s, along with the Holy Cross Hospital in Germantown and Silver Spring.

“We feel very strongly that our commitment to quality and safety is not represented by the D grade,” said Yancy Phillips, chief quality officer for Holy Cross Hospital, commenting on how the hospitals have received positive recognition elsewhere.

“Leapfrog is just one of a number of organizations that find publicly available data and use questionnaires and other things to come up with rankings,” he said.

Mr. Phillips noted that the hospitals decided to not participate in Leapfrog’s data collection, which he said was not to their advantage. He added that they will invest in participating with Leapfrog in the future.

The District ranked 47th in the country, with no hospitals receiving an A grade. It was tied with Wyoming, Alaska, Delaware and North Dakota as the lowest ranked states in safety.

The United Medical Center was the only hospital in the area to receive an F, and did not return a request for comments. The D.C. Council voted Tuesday to close United Medical, the city’s only public hospital, by January 2023.

MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Howard University Hospital scored D’s, and George Washington University Hospital scored a C.

Both Sibley Memorial Hospital and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital scored B’s.

While the D.C. Health Department does not rank city hospitals, it will continue to monitor facilities for patient safety and care, said Alison Reeves, media relations officer for DC Health.

Leapfrog, a nonprofit health care services monitor, estimates that 160,000 lives are lost each year from avoidable medical errors, an improvement from the estimated 205,000 avoidable deaths in 2016.

The goal of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is to reduce the number of annual deaths from hospital errors and injuries by exposing harm, recognizing safety and enabling the public to choose the safest hospitals, said Erica Mobley, Leapfrog’s director of operations.

“A hospital may have the best surgeons and greatest technology in the world, but unless it is preventing infections and eliminating errors, it is not delivering on a very basic premise ensuring the safety of them and their loved ones,” she added.

The Leapfrog report considers 28 evidence-based, national safety measures to score general acute care hospitals.