The Average Hospital Safety Grade by State

hospital equipment exhibiting safety

Hospitals are where we go when we want to feel better, not worse. Most hospitals across America are incredibly successful at treating their patients and providing them with top-notch care. Unfortunately, accidents can still happen, and even the smallest of accidents can have dire consequences for patients. Lives are literally on the line in hospitals, and reducing the number of preventable errors and accidents is crucial, and something that certain states are better at than others.

For years an independent not-for-profit organization known as the Leapfrog Group has made it their mission to help improve the safety, quality and affordability of healthcare in America. One way they hope to do so is by increasing transparency and accountability in hospitals by conducting an annual survey of thousands of hospitals across the United States and then allowing the public to review the results to compare hospitals against one another on a number of metrics.

What this group is best known for is their hospital safety grades. They determine these grades by evaluating hospitals along 28 different metrics relating to patient care and safety. Those metrics are then distilled down to a single, easy-to-understand letter grade on the A to F scale. These grades are released for hospitals across the country twice a year.

As a university, we understand that kind of grading scale very well. As an institution that offers a number of healthcare and nursing programs to students, including a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), Master of Science in Health Administration and a Doctor of Nursing Practice, we also want to help make hospitals and healthcare systems as safe as possible for our healthcare graduates and their patients. With that in mind, we looked at the last four years’ worth of Hospital Safety Grades to create this handy guide to which states have had the most and least safe hospitals in that time.

map showing the average percentage of grade A hospitals by state.

Earning an ‘A’ grade in the Leapfrog rankings is a tremendous achievement for a hospital, as it indicates that the facility successfully operates at a level where minimal accidents occur. The map above shows the average percentage of hospitals in each state that earned this prestigious honor from 2016-2020. Darker blue states are those with higher percentages of ‘A’ grade hospitals, while darker red indicates a lower percentage.

chart showing states with the safest hospitals

We also made this map focusing on the top 20 states with the highest percentage of ‘A’ grade hospitals, and listed them in order from highest to lowest. As you can see, six different states saw 50% of their hospitals or more earn the highest marks possible over this stretch, with Maine leading the way at 57.1%, almost 4.5% higher than second-place Virginia.

map graphic displaying the average safety ranking of hospitals by state

Each year Leapfrog also ranks each state and Washington, D.C. against one another in terms of how they rank overall. We looked at the average finishing position for every state in these rankings in the last four years and once more mapped out the results. Again, dark blue indicates a higher ranking and dark red a lower one.

map identifying the states with the highest safety ranking hospitals

To make it easier to see the top-performing states here, we also made another breakout map focusing on just the 20 highest-ranking states. Once more Maine takes the top spot, followed by Virginia, Oregon, Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Hospital safety is always a priority but during a global pandemic, it is understandable that people and patients may be more concerned about the quality of their hospital care than ever before. Hopefully knowing that these hospitals are being closely evaluated and graded can give some peace of mind to potential patients, especially those in the many states with strong overall performances according to these metrics. Visit the Leapfrog site to learn more about the grading system and look up individual hospitals.

If you are a student looking to help provide grade-A healthcare as a career, be sure to check out Grand Canyon University’s degree offerings today!

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