Leapfrog hospital safety scores expose local strengths, weaknesses

By From page A11 | May 19, 2013

Local health care agencies got plenty of good news this week, but there’s still some work to be done, according to the recent edition of The Leapfrog Group’s annual patient safety grades.

The grades, released May 8, are said by Leapfrog to be a general representation of a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients protected from preventable harm. The grades are based on rates of medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections.

Founded in 2000 as an independent advocacy group, Leapfrog is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health coverage with the self-described goal of achieving improvements in the arena of health care safety.

This is the second year it has published the Hospital Safety Scores, which uses an eight-member panel of industry experts to calculate a singular grade out of 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data.

One of the top grades in the region went to Sutter Davis Hospital, which also received an A grade last year. CEO Janet Wagner said it’s validation of a commitment to embracing national standards for safety.

“It’s a big morale boost for staff,” Wagner said. “We take great pride in providing care to our community. One of the most important messages we can give out is that we’re a safe hospital that can be trusted.”

The hospital scored above average in the avoidance of accidents during and post surgery. Adherence to proper procedure in organizing patient care and reducing errors also was cited as a strong suit in the report.

“We’re always making sure to go through every possible checkpoint, to ensure safety for the patients,” Wagner said. “Things like checking identification of the patient, and making sure that treatment, services, transfusions are all adequate and accurate for that patient.”

The company awarded a C or higher grade to nearly all of the region’s hospitals except Woodland Memorial Hospital, which for the second year received a D grade.

Paul Mamoulelis, director of business development and marketing for Woodland Healthcare, released the following statement: “At Dignity Health, patient care and safety are our top priorities. We support public reporting of a hospital’s quality and our responsibility to provide compassionate, quality care to those we serve.”

Notable in the report was the hospital’s hand-washing practices rating 3 compared to an average performing hospital’s 27.13 (on a 1-30 scale). Hand-washing is noted as an effective intervention in the transmission of pathogens.

Comparatively, Kaiser Permanente’s Sacramento Medical Center and its South Sacramento Medical Center earned scores of 21 and 30, respectively, for hand-washing.

Eighteen Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Northern California — including the two in Sacramento — received top safety grades of A.

Both of the facilities scored perfectly on the criteria used to judge medication reconciliation, identification and mitigation of risks and hazards, and ranked higher than average in preventing falls.

Robert Azevedo, physician-in-chief at Kaiser’s Sacramento Medical Center, celebrated Leapfrog’s recognition in a statement: “Providing a safe environment for our patients is a high priority at Kaiser Permanente. This report affirms our commitment to ensuring that care is effective, efficient and, most importantly, safe.”

Alongside Kaiser’s local hospitals, UC Davis Medical Center earned recognition as one of The Leapfrog Group’s top hospitals in 2012. In the 2013 safety survey, the Med Center earned a B grade — down from last year’s A.

Though the Med Center dropped on the scale, it still ranked highly in the areas of hand hygiene, nursing staff procedure and its management structures.

Overall, only 1.9 percent of hospitals nationwide showed any dramatic change — by moving two or more grades upwards or downwards — in their safety scores.

Out of the more than 2,500 hospitals that were issued a score, 780 earned a grade of A, 638 earned a B, 932 earned a C, 148 earned a D and 16 earned an F.

Individuals may search for the all of the region’s hospital safety scores online at hospitalsafetyscore.org

— Reach Brett Johnson at [email protected] or 530-747-8052. Follow him on Twitter at @ReporterBrett

Brett Johnson

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