The Leapfrog Group Names Swedish/First Hill Among Nation's Top Hospitals for Second Straight Year

Dec 06, 2011, 09:00 ET from Swedish Medical Center

Swedish/First Hill one of only 65 hospitals in the country recognized for achievement in providing the highest quality care in America

SEATTLE, Dec. 6, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Leapfrog Group's annual class of 'Top Hospitals' – just 65 from a field of nearly 1,200 – was announced today in Washington, D.C. and included Swedish Medical Center First Hill for the second year in a row. The announcement came at Leapfrog's Annual Meeting.

The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage – including Boeing and the Washington State Healthcare Authority – that was founded a decade ago to work for improvements in health-care safety, quality and affordability. The 'Top Hospital' designation, which is the most competitive national hospital quality award in the country, recognizes hospitals that deliver the highest quality care by preventing medical errors, reducing mortality for high-risk procedures like heart-bypass surgery, and reducing hospital readmissions for patients being treated for conditions like pneumonia and heart attack.

"The Leapfrog Group's national standards of patient safety and quality are the toughest. And once again, Swedish Medical Center First Hill has risen to the top of all hospitals in the country to earn Leapfrog's highest distinction: Top Hospital," said Leah Binder, CEO of The Leapfrog Group. "This is a significant achievement that speaks to the high quality of care and excellence in patient safety that people everywhere should expect."

The 2011 list includes university and other teaching hospitals, children's hospitals and community hospitals in rural, suburban and urban settings.  Selection is based on results of The Leapfrog Group's national survey that measures hospitals' performance in crucial areas of patient safety and quality.  The results of the survey are posted on a web site open to patients, families, the public, employers and other purchasers of health care. It is the most complete picture available of a hospital's quality and safety.  The web site is, which is also where a complete list of 2011 Leapfrog Top Hospitals can be viewed.

While numerous agencies and organizations collect and publicize hospital quality data, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, now in its eleventh year, is the toughest standard-bearer and provides the most complete picture of a hospital's quality and safety. The survey focuses on three critical areas of hospital care: 1. How patients fare; 2. Resources used to care for patients; and 3. Management practices that promote safety and quality. In each of these three areas, Leapfrog asks hospitals to report on nationally standardized measures so health-care consumers can compare hospitals in their community and across the country. 

The Leapfrog Hospital Survey is the only voluntary effort of its kind. It focuses on four critical areas of patient safety:

  • The use of computer physician order entry (CPOE) to prevent medication errors
  • Standards for doing high-risk procedures such as heart surgery
  • Protocols and policies to reduce medical errors and other safe practices recommended by the National Quality Forum
  • Adequate nurse and physician staffing

In addition, hospitals are measured on their progress in preventing infections and other hospital-acquired conditions as well as adopting policies on the handling of serious medical errors, among other things.

"Of all the awards Swedish has won over the years, the most meaningful is Leapfrog's Top Hospital," said Mary Gregg, M.D., Swedish's director of Quality and Patient Safety. "The reason this award is such an honor for Swedish is because our physicians, nurses and other staff have been working tirelessly for years to develop a culture of safety and quality on behalf of our patients. This award validates these efforts because it is based on performance of key quality and safety metrics."

Dr. Gregg added that although Swedish Medical Center Ballard wasn't eligible because it doesn't have an intensive care unit, that campus also scored in the top 10 percent of all Leapfrog hospitals.

"Employers and other large health-care benefits purchasers look to The Leapfrog Group to identify high-performing hospitals," said Keith Reissaus, Leapfrog board chair. "Leapfrog's members and supporters believe the challenges for American health-care go far beyond just keeping costs down. It is about making certain that patients get the right care at the right time; that value is an equal part of the equation."

Four administrators from Swedish traveled to Washington, D.C. to receive the Top Hospital award. They included Senior Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer Mike Carter; Vice President of Medical Affairs Todd Strumwasser, M.D.; Swedish/First Hill Nurse Executive June Altaras, R.N.; and Chief Medical Information Officer Tom Wood, M.D.

About Swedish

Swedish has grown over the last 101 years to become the largest non-profit health provider in the Greater Seattle area with 11,000 employees, more than 2,800 physicians and 1,700 volunteers. It is comprised of five hospital campuses (First Hill, Cherry Hill, Ballard, Edmonds and Issaquah); freestanding emergency departments and ambulatory care centers in Redmond and Mill Creek; Swedish Visiting Nurse Services; and Swedish Medical Group – a network of more than 70 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Puget Sound area. In addition to general medical and surgical care including robotic-assisted surgery, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatric specialties, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit,, or

In 2007, Swedish embarked upon an ambitious $100 million fundraising campaign. Campaign investments are used to support a wide variety of initiatives throughout the health-care system, including cancer, heart and vascular, women and children, neuroscience, and orthopedics as well as programs to support underserved populations. To date, the campaign has secured gifts totaling more than $82 million. For more information or to support the campaign, visit

SOURCE Swedish Medical Center