One in four Georgia hospitals received an “A’’ grade in patient safety from the nonprofit Leapfrog Group, the same percentage as six months ago.
Two hospitals in the state got an “F’’ grade under Leapfrog’s “Hospital Safety Score,” updated from the fall.
Leapfrog, which was founded by employers, said last week that nationally, hospitals have made significant improvements on several surgical safety processes, as well as in implementing computerized medication prescribing systems.
But the hospitals’ performance on safety outcomes — including preventing errors, accidents and infections — has not significantly improved, Leapfrog said.
Scoring an “A” grade were 19 hospitals across Georgia, from metro Atlanta to Augusta to Savannah to Rome, where both hospitals earned the top mark. Also earning an “A’’ – for the second time in a row – were 69-bed Gordon Hospital in Calhoun in northwest Georgia and Colquitt Regional Medical Center, a 99-bed hospital in Moultrie in southwest Georgia.
Getting a failing grade were Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia in southeast Georgia and Union General Hospital in Blairsville in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The 27.5 percent of Georgia hospitals getting an “A” put the state 24th in the percentage of hospitals getting a top grade.
A Leapfrog panel used 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data in determining grades. The overall grade represents a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.
The Leapfrog Group asserted that nationwide, more than 1,000 people die every day from preventable accidents and errors in hospitals.
“Leapfrog believes that patient safety should be Job No. 1 in every hospital, 24/7,’’said Leah Binder, Leapfrog president and CEO. She noted that the new set of ratings gives hospitals’ past scores as well.
“While patients should always reference a hospital’s current grade as the most important indicator of hospital safety, patients may also want to consider the hospital’s past record, to assess whether their hospital is making constant improvements or if the hospital has demonstrated consistent excellence.”
For the third straight time, Maine claimed the No. 1 spot, with the highest percentage of “A” hospitals (61 percent of the 18 scored hospitals in the state).
For the fourth time in a row, no hospitals in the District of Columbia received an A grade.
There were also no “A” grade hospitals in North Dakota or Arkansas.
How reliable are the grades?
“For Georgia hospitals, the newly released Leapfrog scores show tremendous progress in the quality arena as well as opportunities for continued improvement,’’ Kevin Bloye, a Georgia Hospital Association vice president, said in an email to GHN on Tuesday.
“Hospital patients statewide can be assured that Georgia hospitals are working in earnest to deliver the best, safest health care services possible.”
“When making health care decisions, Georgia patients should utilize not just one study such as Leapfrog, but all available tools at their disposal such as talking with friends or family and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers,” Bloye added.
The Leapfrog ratings are part of the national push to give consumers more information on cost and quality of care.
But more information has not always meant more clarity. A study published in March found that Leapfrog and three other popular national rating systems used by consumers to judge hospitals frequently come to very different conclusions about which hospitals are the best — or worst.
No hospital was considered to be a high performer by all four rating systems, according to the study of the ratings from mid-2012 to mid-2013, and the vast majority of hospitals earned that distinction from only one of the four, the New York Times reported.
In some cases, a hospital was even designated as a high performer by one group and a low performer by another.
“The complexity and opacity of the ratings is likely to cause confusion instead of driving patients and purchasers to higher-quality, safer care,” the authors said.