You are hurt. You are having a baby. You need surgery. You were in a car accident. You want to pick the best possible hospital in Maryland to treat you, right? To make the right choice, you need some idea of the quality of the hospital that is treating you.
The Leapfrog Group, a non-profit watchdog organization, conducts biannual analysis and provides safety grades of health care systems found in each state across the country. Hospital ratings are like looking at Consumer Reports. Are they perfect? Not even close. Will you get more by looking at hospital ratings than an hour of independent research on your own? I think you absolutely will.
Leapfrog has done so since 2012. But the Leapfrog rankings excluded Maryland until 2017, which I talk about at the end of this post for those who are interested.
The hospital grading system
The safety grade that Leapfrog provides includes 27 different measurements, all of which are taken to produce and then assign a single letter grade of A, B, C, D, and F. Those letter grades then serve as a representation of a hospital’s overall performance in keeping its patients safe from both preventable harm and medical errors. Leapfrog collects and uses its performance measures from a number of sources including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, and the CDC taking into account medical errors, accidents, injuries, and infections when calculating the grades.
How safe are Maryland hospitals?
The first rankings of Maryland hospitals in the fall of 2017 were sub-par, if that. Only 15 hospitals received an “F” rating in 2017, and Bon Secours, a Baltimore hospital, received one of them.
The study confirmed what we had already told consumers on our website — this hospital is awful. MRSA infections, blood infections, and urinary tract infections during ICU stays are ridiculously high. Bon Secours also had a high rate of surgical wounds that split open after major stomach and abdominal surgeries.
In 2017, only one Maryland also only received one “A” rating: Howard County General in Columbia, which is owned by Johns Hopkins.
So in 2017, Maryland had only one “A” hospital (but see the 2021 update below). I’ve always told people as someone who handles medical malpractice cases, that we are lucky to have the hospitals we have in the Baltimore area. Awful mistakes happened but Maryland has some of the best hospitals in the nation.
But Maryland found itself with seven “B’s”, 26 “C’s”, eight “D’s”, and of course don’t forget one “F.” Depressing. Maryland was actually only one of six states and the District of Columbia that received a failing grade (joining California, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, and New York). The 2017 report also indicated that Rhode Island, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho, and Virginia contained the highest number of hospitals that received an “A.” In contrast, Maryland, Delaware, New York, North Dakota, and Washington DC contained the lowest number of hospitals receiving an “A.”
Has Maryland improved?
Maryland hospitals have improved since the first report came out. In the 2018 report, Maryland now has three hospitals that have received an “A” while six moved from a “C” in 2017 to a “B” in 2018. Unfortunately, Maryland still does have a hospital that earned an “F”, but the good news is that a different hospital, Fort Washington Medical Center, received the failing grade. With good reason, this hospital is a train wreck.
In 2018 (released in 2019), Howard County General Hospital of Columbia, Johns Hopkins Hospital of Baltimore, and Northwest Hospital of Randallstown are currently the top three hospitals in Maryland all having received an “A” on their last report card from Leapfrog. We all know that while there are many meritorious medical malpractice cases against Hopkins every year, that is an amazing institution. Northwest was a pleasant surprise.
Now, in 2021, it seems that everyone has stepped up their game. Now 11 Maryland hospitals have an “A” grade.
2021 Maryland Hospitals Grades
Listed for you below are the rest of the hospitals in Maryland and their corresponding grades to help you in deciding where to go.
- Anne Arundel Medical Center, Annapolis
- Garrett Regional Medical Center, Oakland
- Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore
- Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, Germantown
- Howard County General Hospital, Columbia
- Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore
- MedStar Good Samaritan Hospital, Baltimore
- MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown
- Suburban Hospital, Bethesda
- UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center, Glen Burnie
- University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus, Baltimore
- University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center, Towson
- Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, Rockville
- Adventist HealthCare White Oak Medical Center, Silver Spring
- Atlantic General Hospital, Berlin
- Carroll Hospital Center, Westminster
- Doctors Community Hospital, Lanham
- Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring
- MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Baltimore
- Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore
- Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Salisbury
- St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore
- The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore
- University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, La Plata
- University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, Chestertown
- University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester, Cambridge
- University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Easton, Easton
- Adventist HealthCare Fort Washington Medical Center, Fort Washington
- CalvertHealth Medical Center, Prince Frederick
- Frederick Health Hospital, Frederick
- MedStar Harbor Hospital, Baltimore
- MedStar Montgomery Medical Center, Olney
- MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center, Clinton
- MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, Baltimore
- Meritus Medical Center, Hagerstown
- Northwest Hospital, Randallstown
- Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Baltimore
- Union Hospital, Elkton
- University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore
- University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, Bel Air
- UPMC Western Maryland, Cumberland
- UM Harford Memorial Hospital, Havre De Grace
- University of Maryland Prince George’s Hospital Center, Cheverly
- Bon Secours Hospital, Baltimore
Why did Maryland have a waiver?
Maryland had a waiver before 2017. Why did Maryland have a waiver in the first place? Well, that is a good question. A federal waiver that exempted Maryland from having to report key safety metrics at a national level that prevented Leapfrog from collecting the information at a national level.
Again, why? I don’t know what the argument was. The Maryland Health Care Commission thankfully jumped in and helped get the waiver lifted. Obviously, this increased transparency and allowed Leapfrog access to the data it needed to include Maryland in its rankings. How many people died of medical malpractice between 2012-2017?
Always remember that medical errors, accidents, and infections in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. Leapfrog, a non-profit, wants to give people some idea which hospitals are the safest so they can make an informed choice. This is what we all want, right? The information to make the right choice.
In 2021, voters and consumers are demanding more transparency. This makes me wonder if medical malpractice payouts and other related information might be next.