The nonprofit Leapfrog Group released its hospital safety grades for the fall of 2023, showing the state’s largest public hospital joined nine others in scoring a “B,” its highest score to date.
Eight years after it received an “F” rating, the University of Mississippi Medical Center scored a “B,” which hospital leaders say is the result of a targeted effort to improve safety measures.
Eight Mississippi hospitals received an “A” safety score, a decrease from 11 in May.
Leapfrog, which advocates for hospital transparency, assigns biannual grades to about 3,000 general acute-care hospitals across the nation based on how those institutions protect patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections.
UMMC is the state’s only academic medical center and cares for the highest-risk patients in Mississippi. It is also home to the state’s only organ and tissue transplant program, Level I trauma center, and a children’s hospital with specialized pediatric programs.
Its latest grade places it in the ranks with other academic medical centers such as Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville and University of North Carolina Hospitals in Chapel Hill, according to UMMC’s press release.
“We’re a Level I trauma center, we’re a tertiary care center, we’re an academic medical center, and we’re the only one of those in a state with the sickest patients in the nation,” Dr. LouAnn Woodward, vice chancellor for health affairs and dean of the School of Medicine, said in the press release.
Following its “F” score back in 2015, the hospital has been gradually increasing its letter grade, receiving a “D” for three years in a row, a “C” for the following four years, and a “B” for the first time this year.
No Mississippi hospitals received an “F” in the latest report, but three scored a “D,” including Merit Health Central in Jackson. The letter grade is based on the hospital’s performance in five categories: infections, problems with surgery, safety problems, practices to prevent errors, and doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
Merit Health Central scored worse than average compared to other hospitals in the rate of deaths from serious treatable complications post-surgery, as well as the rate of dangerous objects left in patients’ bodies after surgery.
The urban hospital, which began cutting services like general surgery and its neonatal intensive care unit last year, has long serviced predominantly Black neighborhoods with a high concentration of people living below the poverty line.
An estimated 160,000 lives are lost annually across the country due to avoidable medical errors, an improvement from the 205,000 lives in 2016, according to the Leapfrog group.
This is a full breakdown of hospital ratings.