Health

Autumn Upturn: Report Card Finds Hospital Safety Ratings Improved In Georgia

The ratings by the Leapfrog Group, a patient safety organization founded by employers, focus on errors, accidents, injuries and infections. The Leapfrog goal is to encourage consumers to consider safety when selecting a hospital.
The ratings by the Leapfrog Group, a patient safety organization founded by employers, focus on errors, accidents, injuries and infections. The Leapfrog goal is to encourage consumers to consider safety when selecting a hospital.
Credit Pixabay Images
'Add to My List' icon 'Added to My List' icon Add to My List In My List

The new Leapfrog Group report card on hospital safety found that 26 Georgia hospitals scored an “A” grade, up from 15 in the spring ratings.

The Leapfrog Group’s report for the fall, released last week, said 35 percent of graded Georgia hospitals got a top mark for patient safety. That percentage put Georgia No. 17 among states in the widely viewed ratings. Just 21 percent of Georgia hospitals earned A’s in the spring ratings.

Leapfrog, a patient safety organization founded by employers, issues the rankings semi-annually.

Georgia’s “A” hospitals were a mix of urban and suburban hospitals and smaller rural facilities.

Gordon Hospital in Calhoun continued its perfect record of getting an “A” in every ranking since Leapfrog started this report in 2012. (Here’s a recent GHN article on Gordon Hospital). Big health care systems HCA, Piedmont and WellStar had multiple hospitals getting “A’s” in Georgia.

No Georgia hospital received an “F.’’ (Here’s a link to the state’s rankings.)

The hospital scores are calculated by patient safety experts, who used 28 evidence-based measures.

The Leapfrog goal is to encourage consumers to consider safety when selecting a hospital. The group also says it believes the grade will foster strong market incentives for hospitals to make safety a priority.

Leapfrog says it’s the only national hospital rating that focuses just on errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

“Health care was an important issue in the 2018 midterm elections, yet both parties are still neglecting the third-leading cause of death in America — errors and infections in hospitals,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, said in a statement. “Every elected official, from city councilors, to senators, to the president, should hold hospitals accountable and support efforts to further address patient safety concerns.’’

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades offer crucial information to help Georgia consumers make informed decisions about their health care.

Berneta Haynes of the consumer group Georgia Watch

According to the group’s report:

  • As many as 440,000 people die every year from hospital errors, injuries, accidents and infections.
  • Every year, 1 out of every 25 patients develops an infection while in the hospital — an infection that did not have to happen.
  • A Medicare patient has a 1-in-4 chance of experiencing injury, harm or death when admitted to a hospital.
  • On a given day, more than 1,000 people will die because of preventable hospital errors.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses national performance measures from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

Taken together, those performance measures produce a single letter grade representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.

The safety measures analyzed include physician staffing in intensive care units; computerized ordering of medications; nursing workforce; proper handwashing and other hygienic measures; and infections such as “C. diff” and “MRSA.”

More than 2,600 hospitals nationally were evaluated. Some kinds of health care facilities are not evaluated: military or VA hospitals, critical access hospitals, specialty hospitals and children’s hospitals,

The five states with the highest percentage of “A” hospitals in this fall’s ratings are New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Massachusetts and Texas.

“We congratulate Georgia’s ‘A’ hospitals for setting an example for the entire state and encourage all hospitals to make patient safety a top priority,’’ said Berneta Haynes of the consumer group Georgia Watch, which is a regional leader for Leapfrog.

“The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades offer crucial information to help Georgia consumers make informed decisions about their health care,” Haynes said.  “We appreciate the hospitals that voluntarily participate every year in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey to provide information about their safety practices and outcomes to consumers.”

Georgia Hospital Association President Earl Rogers said of the improved standing of the state’s hospitals: “The latest LeapFrog report highlights our hospitals’ commitment to improving patient quality and safety. Hospitals are leaders in transparency with regard to quality measurement and have shared safety and quality data with the public for more than a decade.

“When making health care decisions, patients should use all available tools at their disposal such as talking with friends and family and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers.”

Andy Miller is editor and CEO of Georgia Health News