Leapfrog responds to hospital lawsuit: ‘11th hour gambit’ to change safety grade

Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago has alleged the Leapfrog Group knowingly used incorrect information in awarding the facility a “C” grade in its fall 2017 safety grade report. But Leapfrog’s response to the suit said Saint Anthony had ample time to review its grade and said nothing about a suspected error in data the hospital itself had submitted until six days before grades were to be published.

The hospital had been given an “A” grade in the prior two Leapfrog reports. Its fall 2017 grade was originally a “C,” which Leapfrog’s defense said was due to self-reported data on computerized physician order entry (CPOE). According to the data submitted by Saint Anthony, the defense said, approximately 60 percent of inpatient medication orders were processed through its CPOE system.

That data was submitted on June 7. Hospitals graded by Leapfrog had several opportunities to review their results, the defense said, including being able to update their responses until Aug. 31, and then a three-week review period from Sept. 13-Oct. 3. According to Leapfrog, no one from Saint Anthony logged into online survey tool until Oct. 13, 10 days after the review period ended.

“Only six days before the long-publicized publication date for the Fall 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade did Plaintiff for the first time ever indicate to Leapfrog that it believed it had submitted inaccurate CPOE data in June and that its Fall 2017 Safety Grade was inaccurate as a result,” the Leapfrog defense said.

After being contacted by the hospital about a potential error on Oct. 25, Leapfrog said it told the chief quality officer at Saint Anthony, Eden Takhsh, MD, that any updates could only be applied to the next safety grade report for spring 2018. Changing safety grades after they’re shared with hospitals would violate Leapfrog’s policy “to ensure, among other things, fairness and predictability for all hospitals, and that hospitals have no ability or incentive to lobby for a different grade once they have received their grade.”

On Oct. 30, the day before the grades were to be published, the hospital sued Leapfrog. Leapfrog said it agreed to several requests for emergency relief, including not publishing a safety grade for Saint Anthony and removing its original CPOE results—though Leapfrog said the hospital’s updated data couldn’t back up claims that it enters 95 percent of medication orders through its CPOE system.

“In short, this lawsuit is plaintiff’s 11th hour gambit to turn back the clock on a disappointing safety grade based in part on the data that plaintiff itself provided and certified, and which Leapfrog simply used in accordance with its long-established processes,” Leapfrog defense said.

This timeline wasn’t mentioned in a press release on the lawsuit by Saint Anthony president and CEO Guy Medaglia, who claimed the hospital had “immediately reached out to Leapfrog” once it discovered the error and asked its grade to be updated.

Among the reasons Leapfrog gave in arguing for dismissal of the defamation suit: the CPOE data was self-reported and certified to be true by Saint Anthony in June, the hospital “declined numerous opportunities to change or re-submit its data” and Leapfrog has already agreed not to publish a safety grade for the hospital in its fall 2017 report.