Leapfrog: Chicago hospital's lawsuit is '11th hour gambit' to change safety grade

Saint Anthony Hospital in Chicago sued Leapfrog for defamation Oct. 30, alleging the hospital ratings agency knowingly used incorrect information to lower the hospital's letter grade for patient safety. In its response to the lawsuit filed this week, Leapfrog claims the hospital had months to review its safety grade and chose to do nothing until less than a week before the grades were to be published.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges 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 claims 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, according to the report.

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

Leapfrog contends the 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 June 7, 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 states.

Leapfrog claims Saint Anthony Hospital waited until six days before the publication of the fall 2017 report to indicate to Leapfrog that it had submitted inaccurate data in June. To maintain consistency and fairness in the grading process, Leapfrog said it was compelled to adhere to its established timetables and procedures. However, the ratings agency claims it did offer to help the hospital update information that would be used in the spring 2018 report.

The hospital sued Leapfrog the day before the fall 2017 report was published. In response, Leapfrog said it agreed not to publish a safety grade for Saint Anthony Hospital and to remove the hospital's original CPOE results. Leapfrog claims the hospital provided updated data but has still not substantiated its assertion that 95 percent of inpatient medication orders are entered through the CPOE system.

"In short, this lawsuit is Plaintiff's eleventh 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's defense states.

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