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Hospital mistakes are third leading cause of death in U.S.
By Insure.com staff

Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing 440,000 Americans each year, according to a new report from the The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit headquartered in Washington, D.C.

"We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented," Leah Binder, president and CEO of the group, said in a press statement.

The nonprofit's Hospital Safety Score report assigns grades of A through F to more than 2,500 U.S. general hospitals. The latest update to the scores shows that many hospitals are improving safety to prevent errors, accidents, injuries and infections, but overall progress is slow.

"During this time of rapid health care transformation, it's vital that we work together to arm patients with the information they need and tell doctors and hospitals that the time for change is now," Binder said.

Most hospitals earned an A or B, but a troubling number earned a C or below. Of the 2,539 general hospitals issued a score, 813 earned an A, 661 earned a B, 893 earned a C, 150 earned a D and 22 earned an F.

New Hampshire, Arkansas, Nebraska and New Mexico have the smallest percentage of A-grade hospitals. No hospitals in New Mexico or the District of Columbia received an A grade.

Maine claimed the No. 1 spot for the state with the highest percentage of A hospitals.

Some hospital systems achieved straight A's -- all their medical centers earned an A. They include Sentara Healthcare, a hospital system in Virginia and North Carolina, and Kaiser Permanente, with hospitals in California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Ohio, Oregon, Washington and the Washington, D.C., area.

The report showed no overall improvement on measures included in the score, except for adoption of systems that let doctors enter patient treatment instructions electronically.

Although hospitals overall reported little improvement, some individual medical centers jumped two or more grade levels.

Hospital scores are available to the public on the Hospital Safety Score website.

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