Louisville hospitals get mostly mediocre grades – The Courier-Journal

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Some Louisville hospitals are missing the mark on safety, according to the Spring 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades.
Darla Carter/CJ

For the third consecutive time, three Louisville hospitals have received near failing marks from a national watchdog group that issues safety grades twice a year.

Jewish Hospital, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital and University of Louisville Hospital received D’s from The Leapfrog Group on Wednesday while the state as a whole improved its national safety ranking to 33rd place – behind 27th place Indiana.

No Louisville hospital received an A, a mark earned by 823 hospitals across the country. The highest grade in Louisville went to Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, which received a B as did nearby Baptist Health La Grange and Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany.

Most Louisville hospitals, including Baptist Health Louisville, received C’s, the most common grade nationally. Baptist Health Louisville – the former Baptist Hospital East – and Norton Audubon Hospital had received B’s last fall.

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The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which focus on errors, accidents and infections, reflect how more than 2,600 hospitals across the country perform on 30 national performance measures of patient safety.

Only about 7 percent of those U.S. hospitals studied received either a D or an F, the lowest of the safety marks.

In an emergency it’s important to get to the closest hospital as quickly as possible, but in other circumstances, “it would definitely be worth looking to see what other hospitals are available and if there are any that might be a suitable alternative that have a higher safety grade,” said Erica Mobley, a Leapfrog spokeswoman.

However, “no hospital is perfect, so patients should always be aware when they go to the hospital and take steps to protect themselves,” she added.

KentuckyOne Health said despite the D grades of Jewish, Sts. Mary & Elizabeth and University of Louisville hospitals, it’s ”committed to delivering high quality, safe care for the people of Kentucky.”

University of Louisville Hospital was involved in multiple controversies last year, including a state inspection that found that deficiencies in nursing services had endangered three patients. The state later found the hospital had corrected the problems. The inspection followed a surgeon’s complaint that nursing shortages had made the hospital unsafe.

After financial squabbling between the university and KentuckyOne, an executive committee of the U ofL 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 Cancer Center as of July 1.

Meanwhile, “across our facilities in Louisville, and throughout Kentucky, we have several quality and safety initiatives in place and underway to continue to improve the safety and quality of care delivered to all our patients,” KentuckyOne Health said. “While current Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades may appear flat, the methodology draws from older data and does not yet reflect the improvements that we have seen in our more current internal metrics.”

Leapfrog grades general acute care hospitals with sufficient data for its analysis. It doesn’t include specialty hospitals, such as cancer facilities, nor does it include VA hospitals or critical access hospitals, which are small hospitals in rural communities.

The goal is to help empower patients and to motivate hospitals to improve since it’s estimated that more than 1,000 people a day die from preventable errors.

“We wanted to educate the public that there are real differences in how hospitals perform when it comes to safety and that patient safety is a really, really big problem everybody should be concerned with,” Mobley said. “This is something they should watch out for the next time they go to the hospital.”

Leapfrog uses data from multiple places, including its own voluntary survey of hospitals, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and a survey by the American Hospital Association.

Dr. Steven Hester, chief medical officer for Norton Healthcare, said in a statement that he was disappointed that Norton Audubon narrowly missed maintaining its B rating, but patient safety is a “top priority” for the company.

“We are committed to transparency and providing quality data to our patients,” he said. Also, “Norton Healthcare has publicly reported quality scores on our website since 2005. We have a designated team that drives continuous quality improvements for our patients and champions these initiatives across our system.”

Connie Barker, vice president of Quality & Clinical Effectiveness for Baptist Health Louisville, said in a statement that both that hospital and Baptist Health La Grange are “committed to providing safe, quality care to the patients and communities we serve.”

Although Baptist Health doesn’t participate in the Leapfrog survey, ”we consistently monitor and evaluate our outcomes and utilize the Leapfrog score as an additional way of looking at performance and opportunities for improvement. We have formal processes to implement best clinical practices based on evidenced-based practice guidelines and research.”

When possible, it is in the patient’s best interest to choose a hospital that has a better record at preventing errors and therefore has lower infection rates, has technology in place to reduce errors and things like that, Mobley said.

Across the river, Baptist Health Floyd said its improved score is a reflection of several efforts to work with physicians and enhance safety, said Liz Couch, director of quality for Baptist Health Floyd. It also has worked to address things like patient satisfaction, falls and infections and has implemented daily safety huddles and unit-based huddles.

Mobley of Leapfrog said, “Any sort of improvement is definitely worth recognizing and hopefully those hospitals that have been able to raise their grade up to an A will be able to share some of their best practices with other hospitals that might have scored lower.”

Clark Memorial, which has received a C since fall 2015, released a statement, saying that ”surveys, such as Leapfrog, allow us to look for opportunity to improve our processes so that we can continue to provide high quality care to our community.”

Reporter Darla Carter can be reached at (502) 582-7068 or dcarter@courier-journal.com.

Spring 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades

These are the local hospitals that were graded on patient safety by The Leapfrog Group. It only includes general acute care facilities.

Louisville

Baptist Health Louisville: C

Jewish Hospital: D

Norton Audubon Hospital: C

Norton Brownsboro Hospital: C

Norton Hospital: C

Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital: B

Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital: D

University of Louisville Hospital D

Nearby

Baptist Health LaGrange (Kentucky): B

Baptist Health Floyd (New Albany, Indiana): B

Clark Memorial Hospital (Jeffersonville, Indiana): C

Source: The Leapfrog Group

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