Centers of Excellence: 15 Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Named ‘Top Hospitals’ by The Leapfrog Group

Honor recognizes hospitals’ performance on national standards of safety, quality and efficiency.

Press Release
Douglas and Laura Miller in an exam room
Douglas and Laura Miller

When minutes mattered for Douglas Miller, his care team at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center (Southern California) sprang into action.

About two years ago, the 72-year-old began to feel peculiar after doing some mildly strenuous maintenance on his Los Angeles-area home. He didn’t feel any pain, but he knew in an instant something was seriously wrong when his arm began to flop around wildly and involuntarily. After a few moments, he shouted to his wife, ‘Call 9-1-1. I think I’m having a stroke!”

Upon arriving at Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center, Miller’s care team conducted a CT scan that confirmed the stroke, and within minutes, Miller was face-to-face with Kaiser Permanente’s Zahra Ajani, MD, a neurologist and telestroke specialist, via video chat on a TV monitor. Dr. Ajani, working at another Kaiser Permanente facility that morning, quickly explained to Miller that he would be given an injection of tPA, a potentially life-saving medication that helps clear the clot and improve blood flow.

And sure enough, in just seconds after being given the tPA, Miller went from slurring his words to regaining the ability to speak clearly and coherently.

“They put the needle in and the doctor was talking to me and I’m trying to talk to her,” Miller said. “And before they get the needle completely back out, I was carrying on a normal conversation with this doctor on a television. Unbelievable!”

Miller said Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center saved his life thanks to quick action of the emergency department team and the immediate administration of the medication. “I’m indebted to all the people who got themselves trained to take care of me,” he said.

This is one among many examples of care excellence that places Downey Medical Center on a newly released report recognizing the nation’s best hospitals at providing high quality, innovative expert care. The Leapfrog Group — a national watchdog group that compares hospitals’ performance on U.S. standards of safety, quality and efficiency — today named Kaiser Permanente Downey Medical Center and 14 other Kaiser Permanente hospitals as “Top Hospitals.”

In order to be on the list, a Top Hospital must have fulfilled rigorous performance standards for high-risk procedures, and attained outstanding success in areas such as instituting stringent safety practices and reducing infection and mortality rates for common procedures. Hospitals must also fully meet Leapfrog’s standards for implementing computer physician order entry systems.

Nine of the Kaiser Permanente Top Hospitals were also named “Top Teaching” hospitals. Teaching hospitals are those with a documented affiliation agreement with a medical school, or that participate in a number of approved, active residency programs, such as obstetrics/gynecology or pediatrics.

Another six were honored as “Top General” hospitals.


Older women in a hospital bed being checked by a physician“Our hospitals are among the very best in the nation because our care teams are committed to doing what’s best for the member, keeping them safe and providing the highest quality care,” said Michael Kanter, MD, executive vice president and chief quality officer of The Permanente Federation, the national organization for the nearly 19,000 physicians who exclusively provide care to Kaiser Permanente’s members. “The health and well-being of our nearly 11 million members is a shared responsibility between our highly skilled physicians, nurses and care teams, working together collaboratively as one team.”

The annual Top Hospital list is a prestigious group of U.S. medical centers. While more than 1,800 hospitals completed the Leapfrog survey and were considered for the recognition, only 115 (about 6 percent) were named to the list. In California, only 23 teaching or general hospitals received the honor. Kaiser Permanente’s 14 hospitals make up nearly two-thirds of the list of teaching and general Top Hospitals.

“Kaiser Permanente’s outstanding performance in The Leapfrog Group’s Top Hospital ratings reflects the successful outcomes that come from providing care within an integrated, seamless, coordinated health care model,” said Patrick Courneya, MD, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals. “At the same time, we seek to deliver more meaningful, effective and efficient care by utilizing industry-leading technological advancements that make it more convenient — and safer — for our members and patients to get their care.”

The Top Hospitals quality designation is the most recent in a string of national ones given to Kaiser Permanente hospitals and health plans in the past few months:

  • Leapfrog’s Hospital Safety Grade. In October, 22 Kaiser Permanente hospitals received “A” grades in Leapfrog’s semiannual ratings, eight more than during the previous grading period.
  • Medicare Star Quality Ratings. For 2017, five of Kaiser Permanente’s seven Medicare health plans received an overall rating of 5 stars, the highest rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Kaiser Permanente’s Medicare plans in California have been rated 5 stars for six consecutive years.
  • NCQA Quality Compass dataset for commercial measures. According to the 2016 National Committee for Quality Assurance report, Kaiser Permanente is the highest rated health plan in 21 of the 48 effectiveness-of-care measures. More than 500 U.S. plans are considered. This is the eighth successive year Kaiser Permanente has had more No.1s than any other health plan.
  • J.D. Power Member Satisfaction Study. In the 2016 study, Kaiser Permanente members in five geographic areas rated their health plan highest in satisfaction. Kaiser Permanente members in California rated their health plan highest in satisfaction for nine years in a row.

To view the complete list of Leapfrog’s 2016 “Top Hospitals,” visit the group’s website.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 10.6 million members in eight states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the-art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: