A, B Or C – How To Transcend Into Our Hospital Safety

28 Jul

Midsection view of hands in surgical gloves and lightsA consumer group that rates hospitals on quality came out with its Fall 2014 report card this week, and grades for SCL Health care sites run the gamut. The Leapfrog Group releases its hospital letter-grade report cards twice a year, based on performance on 28 safety measures related to error prevention, injuries and infections. Here’s how your hospitals fared:

C – Good Samaritan Medical Center (Lafayette, Colo.)
A — Lutheran Medical Center (Wheat Ridge, Colo.)
C — Saint Joseph Hospital (Denver, Colo.)
B – St. Mary’s Medical Center (Grand Junction, Colo.)
A — St. Vincent Healthcare (Billings, Mont.)
C — St. James Healthcare (Butte, Mont.)
C — St. Francis Health (Topeka, Kan.)

(Note: Holy Rosary Healthcare in Miles City, Mont., was not rated by Leapfrog since it is considered a critical access hospital, not a general hospital.)

Scores are updated twice a year in both April and October. The October scores include updates from the Hospital Compare data. Hospitals have the opportunity to update surveys or tests by the end of 2014, and this could raise their scores,

The Leapfrog scores may bring a mix of elation, relief or disappointment for care sites, depending on the scores. But, as with any type of assessment, Leapfrog grades need to be interpreted in context.

“Healthy competition is good in the healthcare field,” says Lori Fink, Manager of Quality and Patient Safety at St. Mary’s Medical Center. “But while it’s good to be transparent and see how we compare to others, we need to be cautious about overreacting to these specific scores.”

Some of the data used to calculate hospital grades may be several years old and may not reflect more recent performance improvement efforts. For example, Lori pointed out that part of the results came from the 2010-2012 data pulled from Hospital Compare by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and our hospitals have continued to make strides in quality and safety since then.

For a more detailed look at the various third-party rating agencies, their methods of collecting data and awarding quality rankings, see the related story, “Letters and Numbers and Stars, Oh My!“

“The bottom line is that we all focus on caring for the patient and doing that as safely as possible. Rating results are good tools to see where we’ve made good strides, where we’re on track, and where we need to make changes to improve our patient safety,” says Shelly Sheffield, Manager of Quality Measurement and Evaluation for SCL Health.

Safety is a journey, says Tom Peterson, MD, Vice President and Chief Safety Officer. “We’re building a mindset of safety throughout SCL Health. It takes time, but we’re making great progress.”

 What’s in a grade?

To assign a letter grade to each hospital, Leapfrog uses data from the voluntary Leapfrog Hospital Survey (all SCL Health hospitals participated last year) and also pulls data from the Centers for Disease Control, CMS, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American Hospital Association.

According to The Leapfrog Group, there’s been improvement nationwide on all 15 of Leapfrog’s process measures since the last round of grades were released in April 2014. These measures include hand hygiene and physician staffing in ICUs. However, the data shows a lack of progress on outcomes, with some hospitals declining on certain measures such as preventing surgical site infections in patients who have undergone major colon surgery. For full details on Leapfrog’s hospital safety scores, visit www.leapfroggroup.org.