Court dismisses Chicago hospital's defamation lawsuit against Leapfrog

A Cook County Circuit Court judge has dismissed Chicago-based Saint Anthony Hospital's defamation lawsuit against Leapfrog.

Here are six things to know about the lawsuit:

1. The lawsuit alleged Leapfrog awarded Saint Anthony Hospital letter grades of "A" for patient safety in its fall 2016 and spring 2017 reports, but lowered the hospital's grade to "C" in its fall 2017 report. The hospital claimed Leapfrog lowered its grade for patient safety for allegedly prescribing patient medications electronically only 50 to 74 percent of the time. However, Saint Anthony Hospital said its physicians prescribe medications electronically at least 95 percent of the time, and that data was provided to Leapfrog.

2. The hospital alleged it informed Leapfrog of the error numerous times in October, but Leapfrog never said it would correct the issue before releasing its hospital ratings Oct. 31. Saint Anthony contended Leapfrog's refusal to issue the hospital a higher letter grade and correct the alleged error amounted to defamation.

3. Leapfrog arguedthe hospital's "C" for patient safety was based on self-reported data. The hospital submitted data to the Leapfrog Hospital Survey via Leapfrog's online tool in June 2017, and it reported that approximately 60 percent of inpatient medication orders are processed through its computerized physician order entry, according to Leapfrog. Hospitals graded by Leapfrog could update their responses until Aug. 31, and were able to review their data for three weeks beginning Sept. 13. "During this period, Plaintiff did not review its data and raised no issue regarding the CPOE data Plaintiff provided to Leapfrog," the ratings agency's defense stated.

4. The hospital sued Leapfrog the day before the fall 2017 report was published. In response, Leapfrog agreed not to publish a safety grade for Saint Anthony Hospital and to remove the hospital's original CPOE results. "Despite the fact that the matter has been resolved by the parties, Saint Anthony continues to pursue this lawsuit," Leapfrog said in a motion to dismiss filed in March.

5. In its motion, Leapfrog argued Saint Anthony's claim for defamation is barred because the company didn't publish the hospital's safety grade. "Putting aside the fact that a publication of Saint Anthony's fall 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade would not have been a false statement, Saint Anthony cannot sustain a claim for defamation because legally no publication ever occurred," stated the motion.

6. The court dismissed the hospital's complaint June 25. The complaint "makes no allegation of any Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade that Saint Anthony is currently challenging and therefore cannot challenge the Leapfrog grading system/methodology at this time," Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos wrote in the order dismissing the case.

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