Published on NJBiz.com

New Jersey led the nation with the highest percentage of hospitals with an A grade in the latest fall Leapfrog Hospital SafetyGrade released Thursday.

Additionally, the state also had the highest rate of participation in the survey with more than 50 hospitals having responded.

More than 56 percent, or 38 of the participating hospitals, received the highest grade of A. In contrast, New Jersey ranked 17th in Leapfrog’s spring survey with 33 percent of hospitals receiving an A grade.

The Leapfrog Group’s independent, nonprofit grading system assigns A, B, C, D, and F letter grades to more than 2,600 general acute care hospitals in the U.S. The safety grades are focused on avoidable errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

Highlights from the Leapfrog Grades for New Jersey include: 38 hospitals, or 56.7 percent, received an A grade; 16 hospitals, or 23.9 percent, got a B; 11 C hospitals, or 16.4 percent, got a C; one hospital received a D and another an F.

In all, 67 New Jersey hospitals were graded this round. Of those, 24 saw their grades go up —four climbed two grades: St. Joseph’s University Medical Center, Saint Clare’s Hospital of Denville, Saint Clare’s Hospital of Dover and Saint Michael’s Medical Center. Five hospitals went down in grade.

The poorest-performing hospitals were East Orange General Hospital, which was graded an F; and University Hospital in Newark, which got a D.

“This is the first time that New Jersey had the most A-rated hospitals. We’re proud of the high number of hospitals in New Jersey that voluntarily submit their quality and safety data to Leapfrog, and then also use that information to continually improve patient care,” said Linda Schwimmer, president & CEO of the Princeton-based New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute (NJHCQI), which serves as the regional leader for Leapfrog in New Jersey.

NJHCQI is an independent, health care advocacy group.

Schwimmer, who also serves on the Leapfrog board of directors, encouraged all hospitals to use the survey to improve their performance.

“Our experience shows that hospitals committed to creating a culture of safety and quality perform well. That’s the common denominator,” she said.