Iowa Health - Des Moines officials added their voice to a chorus of protests by hospitals over the methods used by The Leapfrog Group  to rate hospital safety. 

Last week The Leapfrog Group, a national not-for-profit organization of employer health-care purchasers, released letter grades it had assigned to more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide, including 24 hospitals in Iowa.  

Iowa Health said the ratings are inaccurate because hospitals that choose not to provide data to Leapfrog are graded using outdated Medicare data. Iowa Health's Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Iowa Lutheran Hospital, which did not provide Leapfrog with data, received grades of C and B, respectively.

"The data used in the report are more than a year old and the scores are not adjusted for the risk associated with the types of patients each hospital accepts," said Amy Varcoe, a spokeswoman for Iowa Health - Des Moines. Additionally, Leapfrog requires hospitals to pay licensing fees to promote their hospital scores, she said.

When initial ratings were released to the hospitals in June, American Hospital Association officials said the safety scores were inaccurate and advised patients to avoid using the scores to decide where they should receive care.  

Twenty-five hospitals, among them the 520-bed Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in California, received failing grades from Leapfrog and another 121, including the Cleveland Clinic, received D grades, according to an article in HealthLeaders Media. One hospital official said that Leapfrog was attempting to "extort" hospitals to join Leapfrog's voluntary reporting system, while others said the methodology is flawed or unknown to anyone except Leapfrog.

Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder said in that article that all hospitals graded were given a chance to see their raw numbers as well as their letter grades in the weeks and days before they were publicly released and to refute them if there was an error.