Nobody likes to get sick, but it’s especially bad to fall into ill health in Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, North Dakota or Wyoming.
Those are the only five states or districts in the nation that do not have any A-rated hospitals, according to the Leapfrog Group’s spring 2019 Hospital Safety Grade report.
The Leapfrog Group bills itself as “an independent nonprofit organization committed to driving quality, safety and transparency in the U.S. health system.”
The group issues hospital safety grades twice a year, assigning a letter of “A,” “B,” “C,” “D” or “F” to hospitals in the U.S. These ratings are based on errors, accidents, injuries and infections.
For its latest ratings, the Leapfrog Group graded more than 2,600 hospitals. The most common rating was a “C”:
- “A” — 32% of hospitals received this rating
- “B” — 26%
- “C” — 36%
- “D” — 6%
- “F” — 1%
The states with the most A-rated hospitals are:
- Oregon — 58% of hospitals are A-rated
- Virginia — 53%
- Maine — 50%
- Massachusetts — 48%
- Utah — 48%
To look up the grades of hospitals in your area, visit the Leapfrog Group’s home page.
Avoidable deaths at hospitals
In addition to issuing grades this spring, the Leapfrog Group joined with the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to update its estimate of deaths due to errors, accidents, injuries and infections at rated hospitals.
The Leapfrog Group says an estimated 160,000 lives are lost each year due to avoidable medical errors accounted for in its grades. However, that grim number still represents a “significant improvement from 2016,” it says, when avoidable deaths were estimated at 205,000.
Although hospitals rated “A” are not perfectly safe, they are significantly safer than hospitals with other grades. The Leapfrog Group and Armstrong Institute found that compared to A-rated hospitals:
- Patients at “D” and “F” hospitals face a 92% greater risk of avoidable death, on average.
- Patients at “C” hospitals face an 88% greater risk.
- Patients at “B” hospitals face a 35% greater risk.
Hospitals that earn an “A” grade are becoming even safer as a group over time, the report states. In an announcement, the Leapfrog Group concludes:
“If all hospitals had an avoidable death rate equivalent to ‘A’ hospitals, 50,000 lives would have been saved, versus 33,000 lives that would have been saved by ‘A’ level performance in 2016.
How to cut your health care costs
Great care is unquestionably better than subpar medical services. But getting the best health care can be expensive. That is especially true as you grow older. As we reported earlier this year:
“A 65-year-old man who retires this year would need $135,000 for health care expenses throughout his retirement, according to Fidelity’s latest annual estimates, which the company released this week. A 65-year-old woman in the same situation would need $150,000.”
Planning ahead is one way to take much of the sting out of those costs.
For example, funding a health savings account can cut your tax bill today, tomorrow and well into the future. And if you invest your HSA funds wisely, they could grow exponentially, potentially covering most or all of your retirement health care costs.
For more on HSAs, check out “3 Reasons You Need a Health Savings Account — and How to Open One Today.”
What is your experience with the hospitals in your state? Sound off in comments below or on our Facebook page.