RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina has one of the highest rates of safe hospitals in the nation — even though that rate dropped over the past year, according to a watchdog organization.

More than 40 percent of the state’s hospitals that were evaluated earned a grade of A based on 30 ways to measure patient safety as determined by the Leapfrog Group, which on Wednesday released its twice-a-year letter grades for patient safety.

It looked at 88 hospitals across the state and awarded As to 37 of them.

That rate of 42 percent puts North Carolina sixth nationally. 

The state was No. 1 a year ago when nearly 60 percent of hospitals received As, but slipped to No. 7 in those rankings in Fall 2022 as that rate fell to 44 percent.

“Those hospitals that are As, in general, are having a culture of safety, and that starts with the leadership and trickles down to the workers,” said Katie Stewart, the director of health care ratings at Leapfrog.

Still, the current rate is nearly 1½ times better than the national average: Of the 3,000 hospitals evaluated by the group, only 29 percent received As.

Stewart says that rate is slightly lower than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The national percentage of As, that is fairly consistent from what we’ve seen,” Stewart said.

More good news: Every hospital in Raleigh or Durham received an A. And the only one to receive an F last spring — Granville Medical Center in Oxford — bumped its grade up to a C.

Here’s a look at some of the largest hospitals in the area


All three Duke-branded hospitals — Duke University Hospital and Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, and Duke Raleigh Hospital — received As for the 10th consecutive grading period.

“Our consistent ‘A’ grades from Leapfrog, even during the pandemic, demonstrate our deep commitment to exceptional care at all three Duke Health hospitals,” said Dr. Thomas Owens, the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Duke University Health System.


All three WakeMed hospitals — Cary, North and Raleigh — earned As for the fourth consecutive grading period, after the Cary and Raleigh hospitals got their grades up in Fall 2021. WakeMed North has never received a grade lower than an A.


UNC Rex Hospital continued its run of straight As — the Raleigh hospital is the only one in the state to have never received anything lower than an A since the group began awarding letter grades in 2012. Among the other UNC Health facilities to earn grades of A were Wayne UNC Health Care in Goldsboro and UNC Health Nash in Nashville. 

UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill received a B after it earned its third straight C last fall.