Two hospitals may look the same from the outside, but the kind of care going on inside can be dramatically different. And this isn’t just about the quality of food in the cafeteria or the friendliness of the nurses—it’s about serious issues like how many avoidable, deadly mistakes are made on a daily basis. Hospitals with the lowest safety ratings have double the mortality of ones at the top. In other words, the hospital you choose could literally be a life-or-death decision.
So how do you pick the best one for you and your family? The Leapfrog Group recently teamed up with Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality to release its latest nationwide safe hospital rankings. See where yours ranks here, and keep reading to learn about why some of the best and worst in the country landed where they did. And no matter where you go for care, make sure to read these 34 tips for surviving your next trip to the hospital.
Welcome to the A team
Some hospitals are so good they have gotten an A every time The Leapfrog Group comes out with their list (which they’ve done twice a year since the Hospital Safety Grades started in 2012). Out of the more than 2,600 that got a grade this year, only 41 of them have that honor. Here’s a closer look at 10 of them.
Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Santa Rosa, CA
This hospital got the highest possible score for having effective leadership to prevent errors. This means they have systems in place like using electronic prescriptions (no messy handwriting to read) and bar codes on all medicine to ensure mistakes rarely happen.
Memorial Hospital Miramar, Miramar, FL
With better-than-average scores in every category of the Doctors, Nurses, & Hospital Staff section, this hospital does a lot right. That means having enough qualified nurses, specially trained doctors to care for patients in the ICU, and good communication between employees. If a loved one is under care, make sure you never do these things when visiting someone in the hospital.
Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, Boston, MA
You can thank this hospital‘s major focus on safety for why it’s earned As so many years in a row. It scored perfectly in areas like having procedures in place to ensure providers wash their hands before touching patients and having a staff that feels comfortable speaking up if they think they see an error about to happen.
Michigan Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI
The surgical teams at this hospital put safety first every step of the way. That translates to a super low risk of errors, including things like leaving dangerous objects in a patient’s body, surgical wounds splitting open, and accidental cuts and tears.
St. David’s Medical Center, Austin, TX
Good doctors know good communication with patients is crucial to keeping them safe and healthy. And the doctors at this hospital do just that. They scored high points in areas like communicating with patients about their medication and explaining exactly what they need to do after they are discharged. Ever wonder what your doctor is really thinking but won’t say? Find out here.
Inova Loudoun Hospital, Leesburg, VA
The devil is in the details when it comes to performing surgery, so it’s important for providers to be careful every step of the way. This hospital‘s team does just that, scoring high in areas like inserting catheters and feeding tubes without impacting the lungs and watching for breathing issues that can turn serious if left untreated.
Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA
No hospital will be absolutely perfect, which is why leaders need to examine why mistakes happened and put systems in place to avoid them in the future. Virginia Mason Medical Center has a careful process to monitor and correct mistakes along with anticipating situations in which mistakes could occur in the future.
Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, Columbus, MS
Patients can be at risk for safety issues like bed sores, air or gas bubbles in the blood, and falls in the hospital—all areas in which Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle excelled at preventing. They take a proactive approach to bed sores, undergo training to avoid air bubbles in blood when inserting or removing tubes, and are available to help patients get up from beds and move around their rooms.
University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL
This hospital‘s team is especially good at watching over patients post-surgery to avoid serious-yet-treatable complications such as pneumonia, heart attack, or loss of function in their kidneys or liver. The administrators also routinely survey their team about safety, which creates a culture of continual improvement.
Rose Medical Center, Denver, CO
Infections are a big problem in hospitals—especially antibiotic-resistant MRSA. This hospital has above-average scores in avoiding MRSA as well as bacterial infections of the blood and urinary tract thanks to cleanliness and procedures like requiring gloves during certain procedures. If you’re in a hospital, make sure to clean your hands after touching these especially dirty places.
Five of the worst
The hospitals on this list got an F this year because of how unsafe they were for patients.
Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Services, Gallup, NM
With low points in areas like communication between patients and their doctors and nurses, this hospital could have a higher risk for errors like medication mix-ups and misdiagnoses.
St. John’s Episcopal Hospital, Far Rockaway, NY
This hospital had poor scores in many areas, including leaders not tracking and reducing risk to patients (meaning the same error could potentially happen over and over again) and leaders not prioritizing patient safety. These are the secrets to finding the best doctor, according to doctors.
Methodist Hospital of Henderson, Henderson, KY
With low scores in handwashing and certain infections, this hospital likely doesn’t have the procedures in place that would land it a higher grade.
Valley Presbyterian Hospital, Van Nuys, CA
Below-average scores in surgical problems like collapsed lungs, blood clots, and death from serious treatable complications are what gave this hospital an F grade.
National Park Medical Center, Hot Springs, AK
This hospital under-performs in important communication areas like talking to patients about their medications and how they should continue their care after they are discharged. Protect yourself further with this knowledge: This is why you should never have surgery in the evening.