Mar 14, 2018



What Patient Safety Ratings Mean to Consumers and Hospitals

March 11-17 is Patient Safety Awareness Week, a week that focuses on patient engagement and safety culture. It emphasizes how important it is for consumers to be proactive with their health since major health events are often unpredictable, and how consumers can use patient safety indicators to select their hospital.

What are patient safety indicators?

Patient Safety Indicators (PSIs) are administrative data-based indicators that identify potential in-hospital patient safety events. Healthgrades estimates that there were 247,676 potentially preventable patient safety events among Medicare patients in US hospitals between 2014-2016*.  

From 2014 to 2016, four patient safety indicators accounted for nearly 74% of all patient safety events*:

  • Accidental cut, puncture, perforation, or hemorrhage during medical care
  • Collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest
  • Catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired at the hospital
  • Pressure sores or bed sores acquired in-hospital

Despite the increased focus on clinical quality measures, patient safety, and outcomes, these potentially preventable adverse events continue to occur. An analysis by Frost & Sullivan titled “Patient Safety in Healthcare, Forecast to 2022” estimates that adverse patient safety events such as in-hospital-acquired infection, sepsis, medication safety, pressure ulcers, and diagnostic errors in the United States and Western Europe will create a cost-burden of $383.7 billion.1

As consumers take more control of their health, they are increasingly interested in patient safety metrics because when they make a hospital selection—they want to have confidence in their choice.

How can I use these indicators when selecting a hospital for care?

Many hospitals have instituted patient safety programs. These programs are designed to provide a safe, reliable, and consistent care experience. Patient safety initiatives are not just the responsibility of the physician and hospital staff, it is also up to the patient to become educated on disease/accident prevention, medication management, and family history. Patients can do their due diligence by talking with their providers and family members, as well as proactively researching hospitals on and local health department websites.  

Health systems and hospitals must create a culture of safety to improve the patient experience and reduce negative patient safety events. Consumers are doing their part to get educated on key quality and safety standards, empowering them to make confident decisions about their care.  

*Statistics are calculated from Healthgrades Patient Safety Ratings and Excellence Award methodology which is based primarily on AHRQ technical specifications (Version 5e) to MedPAR data for years 2014 through 2016 and represent 3-year estimates for Medicare patients only. Updated data will be released in May.
1 Patient Safety Solutions To Prevent Up To 70% Of Adverse Events, Frost & Sullivan…