Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nonprofit grades hospitals on patient safety; Ky. improves slightly in national rank, but Louisville hospitals still get near-failing scores

University of Louisville Hospital reminds visitors
and workers to wash their hands to stop infections.
By Traci Thomas
Kentucky Health News

A nonprofit group that rates hospitals has released its latest patient-safety grades, giving most Kentucky hospitals a B or C. The scores are similar to grades released in October, but the overall score for Kentucky hospitals rose from 35th to 32nd among the states.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., evaluated 2,639 hospitals nationwide, including 51 in Kentucky. Most of Kentucky's 129 hospitals were not rated because critical-access hospitals in rural areas don’t have to report their quality measures.

The grades are calculated using 30 publicly available safety-performance measures from the 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.

The calculations gave an A to 12 of Kentucky's hospitals, or 23.5 percent, lower than the national average of 31 percent. The majority of Kentucky hospitals got average scores, with 16, or 31.4 percent, earning a B, and 20, or 39.2 percent, earning a C. The remaining three hospitals got a D, one fewer than in the fall.

The three that got a D are in Louisville and owned or operated by KentuckyOne Health: Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital. A state inspection of University Hospital last year found that shortcomings in nursing had endangered three patients, and nurses and doctors told inspectors that staff shortages put patients at risk. The hospital has since corrected those problems.

Despite the low grades, KentuckyOne Health told The Courier-Journal that it's "committed to delivering high quality, safe care for the people of Kentucky," Darla Carter reports for the Louisville newspaper. "After financial squabbling between the university and KentuckyOne, an executive committee of the U of L Board of Trustees approved an agreement in December to clear the way for KentuckyOne to no longer run the day-to-day operations of the hospital and the James Graham Brown Cancer Center as of July 1."

St. Joseph Hospital and St. Joseph East in Lexington, also owned by KentuckyOne, received Cs again after getting the same grade in October.

Pikeville Medical Center has received A grades from the start.
Among Leapfrog's top safety picks is Pikeville Medical Center, the only Kentucky hospital to get straight As since the rankings began in 2013. The two University of Kentucky hospitals once again earned Bs.

The grades include separate ratings for errors, injuries, accidents and infections. Click here for Kentucky's hospital safety scores.The Leapfrog Group says its analysis was developed under the guidance of the nation's leading patient-safety experts. The report is peer-reviewed and published in the Journal of Patient Safety.

“When we launched the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade in 2012, our goal was to alert consumers to the hazards involved in a hospital stay and help them choose the safest option. We also hoped to galvanize hospitals to make safety the first priority day in and day out,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, said in a report. "So far, we’ve been pleased with the increase in public awareness and hospitals’ commitment to solving this terrible problem. But we need to accelerate the pace of change, because too many people are still getting harmed or killed.”

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