Only 2 Lowcountry hospitals get ‘A’ grade in hospital safety study

VIDEO: Report cards released for Lowcountry hospitals

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Do you know how safe your hospital is? A new study conducted by a national non-profit rated safety at hospitals across the country.

Hospitals in the Lowcountry received mixed reviews from the group Leapfrog. The nonprofit advocates for hospital safety and rates thousands of hospitals twice a year.

The ratings are based on 28 evidence-based measures of patient safety like errors, accidents, injuries, and infections. How the hospitals score in each category is calculated and then converted into a letter grade.

Leapfrog released a breakdown by letter grade of its hospital report card study. (Source: Leapfrog)
Leapfrog released a breakdown by letter grade of its hospital report card study. (Source: Leapfrog) (Source: Leapfrog)

South Carolina ranked 26th in the nation for hospital safety.

MUSC and Beaufort Memorial Hospital were the only two hospitals out of 12 in the Lowcountry to receive an A grade.

“We’re super proud and excited for the A grade," MUSC Chief Quality Officer Danielle Scheurer said. "I think it’s hard-earned. It’s been a lot of progress over the years both in the process and the outcome.”

Here are the 12 hospitals and the grades they received:

  • Medical University of South Carolina [MUSC Health] – A
  • Beaufort Memorial Hospital – A
  • Colleton Medical Center – B
  • East Cooper Medical Center – B
  • Hilton Head Hospital – B
  • Summerville Medical Center – B
  • Roper Hospital – B
  • Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital – C
  • Trident Medical Center – C
  • Mount Pleasant Hospital – C
  • Tidelands Health Georgetown Memorial Hospital – C
  • The Regional Medical Center, Orangeburg – F

“Nothing is more important than the safety of our patients," Roper St. Francis Chief Physician Officer Dr. Todd Shuman said. "These preliminary Leapfrog scores are based on data that hospitals self-report, and we discovered some areas where our data was not included. Roper St. Francis Healthcare will be resubmitting data to Leapfrog before the Dec. 31 deadline, and we expect our final grades to improve.”

CLICK HERE to search for grades of hospitals near you.

Alice Turner, the assistant vice president for Quality Management at Summerville Medical said these types of surveys always brings different issues to light.

“I think any time that we can take a survey and compare ourselves to other facilities we always learn something and it always creates some opportunities,” Turner said.

Some hospitals are looking at this as an opportunity to do better. Trident Medical Center and Mount Pleasant Hospital were among the ones that received C grades.

Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg, which received an F, issued the following statement on their grade, saying there’s more to the story:

“The Leapfrog Group’s latest Hospital Safety Grades report was recently released for South Carolina hospitals. The Leapfrog Group, for those not familiar with it, is a nonprofit organization that promotes transparency, quality and safety by collecting, analyzing and publicly disseminating safety data provided on a voluntary basis by more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide.

The Regional Medical Center (RMC) of Orangeburg and Calhoun counties was one of the hospitals that received an unfavorable rating in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades report released on November 1, 2018. What’s important to understand is that the report was based on data collected between 2015 and 2017, and does not reflect the large turnaround effort currently underway at RMC. Moreover, RMC has not participated in Leapfrog’s survey requests in recent years, which automatically contributes to lower scores.

What few outside RMC know is that the hospital began implementing corrective action plans to address its safety gaps long before the November report was published and has already begun to see significant improvements, including a reduction in caesarean section rates, an increase in medication scanning percentage, and a decrease in the rates of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) and clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections. RMC has earned numerous safety awards, including the “Zero Harm” award for preventing surgical site infections from the South Carolina Hospital Association and the Blue Distinction award for maternity care by Blue Cross Blue Shield. The hospital also received full accreditation by The Joint Commission following its hospital-wide and laboratory surveys last summer.

Significant changes at RMC were set in motion when the RMC Board of Trustees began installing a new leadership team that includes some of the brightest stars in health care management from around the country. Led by President & CEO Charles Williams, FACHE, RMC’s new leaders share two things in common – a passion for patient- and family-centered care and a track record for improving quality, safety and financial performance in short order.

RMC’s new leadership team has already done an amazing job of turning the organization around and setting a course for excellence and sustainability. The hospital ended the 2017 fiscal year approximately $7.1 million in the hole and was able to reduce that deficit to $1 million by September 2018. What’s more, RMC managed to continue expanding services while at the same time cutting costs and reducing the deficit. RMC is currently building an Emergency Department to serve Bamberg and Barnwell counties, and has plans to grow Urgent Care and several other services in Orangeburg.

The remarkable “leaps” RMC has made over the last year alone are only the start of what’s to come. With a focus on leadership engagement, a culture of safety and a systematic approach to addressing performance gaps, the path to achieving an “A” rating within the next few years has been set. ”

But medical professionals are urging people not to completely steer away from hospitals based on just one survey.

“There are multiple, competing rankings, and there’s some literature that if you do well in one ranking, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll do well in another...which indicates it’s sort of a sum total rather than putting all your eggs in one basket," Scheurer said.

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