Study: Hospitals in DC, Md. lag far behind Va. when it comes to patient safety

WASHINGTON — Hospitals in D.C. and Maryland lag far behind Virginia hospitals when it comes to patient safety, according to a new scorecard released Tuesday by nonprofit health watchdog Leapfrog.

Leapfrog released its Hospital Safety Grades on Tuesday, assigning hospitals nationwide an A, B, C, D or F grade based on a variety of criteria. The study focuses on how safe patients are at each facility from preventable harm or medical errors.

“We are looking at errors, accidents, infections, bad kinds of things you never want to see happen in a hospital, but unfortunately, happen too often,” President and CEO of Leapfrog, Leah Binder, told WTOP.

In D.C., the highest-scoring hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital, earned a B score. Two hospitals — Howard University Hospital and United Medical Center — earned Fs. Nationwide, just 15 hospitals, out of more than 2,600 evaluated by Leapfrog, received failing grades in the study. The group’s methodology has been peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

In Maryland, just one hospital received an A in patient safety — Howard County General Hospital in Columbia. In the wider D.C. area (including Baltimore), six Maryland hospitals received Bs; 14 received Cs; and six received Ds. Baltimore’s Bon Secours Hospital received an F grade.

Both D.C. and Maryland rank in the bottom five when it comes to the percentage of hospitals earning A scores.

In Northern Virginia, six hospitals earned the top score, and two hospitals earned Bs. The lowest score in Virginia was a C grade. Statewide, 60 percent of Virginia hospitals earned A scores.

See the full list of area hospitals and their scores below.

According to study authors, it’s not uncommon for patient safety to vary dramatically from hospital to hospital — even ones in the same region.

The scorecards are released annually to help increase transparency around hospital safety, the group said.

“More than 500 people a day die every year in the United States from these errors and accidents. so it’s really important that you understand how well a hospital does on preventing these accidents before you’re admitted,” Binder said.

According to Binder, hospital employees can become burdened with other priorities, such as acquiring the latest technology or keeping up with health care policy changes or turmoil.

“So, what we see with hospitals that sometimes lose their way on patient safety is that they aren’t putting patients first every minute of the day and they haven’t put patient safety as the priority,” Binder said. “It’s not the first item on the board’s list, it’s not the first item on the CEO’s list, it’s not the first item on the physician’s list. When that happens patients slip through the cracks.”

The information Leapfrog analyzed is provided through the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, from hospitals that voluntarily submit information and patients themselves. Maryland hospitals were included in the study for the first time due to a federal waiver impacting how the state’s hospitals make medical information public.

Leapfrog employs a panel of patient safety experts from around the country to calculate a numerical score for each hospital using 27 performance measures publicly available from hospitals. The data is analyzed and weighted according to evidence, opportunity for improvement and impact.

Each numerical score is then converted to a letter grade, with A being the best and F being the worst.

Hospitals that received an A

Howard County General Hospital — Columbia, Maryland

Inova Fair Oaks — Fairfax, Virginia

Inova Loudoun — Leesburg, Virginia

Inova Mount Vernon — Alexandria, Virginia

Novant Health UVA Health System — Manassas, Virginia

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center — Woodbridge, Virginia

Virginia Hospital Center — Arlington, Virginia

Hospitals that received a B

Inova Fairfax Hospital — Falls Church, Virginia

MedStar Union Memorial Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland

Mercy Medical Center — Baltimore, Maryland

Northwest Hospital — Randallstown, Maryland

Reston Hospital Center — Reston, Virginia

Sibley Memorial Hospital — D.C.

Suburban Hospital — Bethesda, Maryland

The Johns Hopkins Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland

University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center — Towson, Maryland

Hospitals that received a C

Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital — Takoma Park, Maryland

Anne Arundel Medical Center — Annapolis, Maryland

Calvert Memorial Hospital — Prince Frederick, Maryland

Doctors Community Hospital — Lanham, Maryland

Greater Baltimore Medical Center — Baltimore, Maryland

Holy Cross Hospital — Silver Spring, Maryland

Inova Alexandria Hospital — Alexandria, Virginia

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center — Baltimore, Maryland

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital — D.C.

MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland

MedStar Harbor Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland

MedStar Montgomery Medical Center — Olney, Maryland

Sinai Hospital of Baltimore — Baltimore, Maryland

UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center — Glen Burnie, Maryland

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center — La Plata, Maryland

University of Maryland Medical Center — Baltimore, Maryland

Hospitals that received a D

Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center — Rockville, Maryland

Fort Washington Medical Center — Fort Washington, Maryland

George Washington University Hospital — D.C.

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center — Clinton, Maryland

MedStar Washington Hospital Center — D.C.

Providence Hospital of Washington — D.C.

St. Agnes Hospital — Baltimore, Maryland

University of Maryland Laurel Regional Hospital — Laurel, Maryland

University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus — Baltimore, Maryland

University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center — Cheverly, Maryland

Hospitals that received an F

Bon Secours Baltimore Health System — Baltimore, Maryland

Howard University Hospital — D.C.

United Medical Center — D.C.

WTOP’s John Domen contributed to this report.

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© 2017 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.

Jack Moore

Jack Moore joined as a digital writer/editor in July 2016. Previous to his current role, he covered federal government management and technology as the news editor at, part of Government Executive Media Group.

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