Arkansas drops to 28th for hospital safety in national report

(The Center Square) – The measurable quality of Arkansas hospitals has fallen.

The Leapfrog Group, a national watchdog organization that aims to give individuals more power to make informed decisions for their health care, assigns letter grades to nearly 3,000 hospitals across the U.S. twice a year. It bases the grades on over 30 measures of patient safety and surveys evaluating patient experience.

It said only 28.1% of hospitals analyzed in Arkansas received an "A" grade, demonstrating a decline in hospital safety in the state since Fall 2021, when the group ranked Arkansas 24th with 29.7% of its hospitals receiving A's.

It followed a national trend observed by the organization where COVID-19 caused a significant decline in patient safety.

"Recent studies have shown that the pandemic has reversed years of progress on patient safety efforts," the authors wrote.

Data from the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Hospital Survey (HCAHPS) found fewer patients felt their doctors and nurses listened carefully or treated them with respect during the pandemic.

They were also less likely to report feeling confident about understanding their discharge information or the purpose of their medications, which the report said could increase the likelihood of a patient being readmitted to the hospital.

"Patient experience is a critical indicator of safety in hospitals," said the report. "Studies show that facilities that provide better experiences for patients tend to provide safer, higher quality care. Leapfrog's assessment of the HCAHPS survey results between a pre-COVD and mid-COVID timeframe uncovers and further confirms patient safety lapses associated with the pandemic time frame."

The report evaluated multiple outcome measures to determine the grades received by hospitals and the overall ranking of states, including the rate of hospital-acquired conditions, healthcare-associated infections, various degrees of communication between nurses and doctors, staff responsiveness and communication about medicines.

Only 33% of nearly 3,000 hospitals analyzed received an "A." Twenty-four percent received a "B," 36% received a "C," 7% received a "D," and less than 1% received an "F," the report said.

"Despite a general decrease in patient experience ratings, spring grades continue to show significant variation in safety performance across U.S. hospitals," said Leah Binder, the president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. "This variability is a constant reminder that the public must have access to information on which hospitals are safer so patients can make the best decision for themselves and their loved ones."

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