Three Lowcountry hospitals receive “A” grade in newly released hospital safety ratings

VIDEO: Three Lowcountry hospitals receive “A” grade in newly released hospital safety ratings

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Leap Frog, a non-profit organization that works with hospitals across the country, has released their semi-annual safety grades for thousands of hospitals.

In the Lowcountry, 3 out of 8 hospitals received A’s. Beaufort Memorial, Bon Secours St. Francis, and Trident Medical Center were the three to receive the highest grades.

The hospitals are rated on 28 evidence-based measures including errors, accidents, injuries, and infections.

Hospitals involved provide documents to the Leapfrog group for this survey. The scores in each category are calculated and then converted into a letter grade. Hospitals can receive either an “A, B, C, D or F.”

Last year we showed the grades for 12 Lowcountry hospitals, now consumers get a chance to see how some hospitals have improved.

Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital was able to raise their rating from a “C” to an “A” this year. A spokesperson for the hospital says a lot it has to do with improving their communication.

“Patient safety is paramount in everything we do, in everything any hospital does,” said Gretchen Morin, the chief administrative officer at Bons Secour St. Francis Hospital. “What we’ve probably been doing more importantly is just improving our daily communications.”

Trident Medical Center was also able to improve their grade from a “C” to an “A." In the spring of 2019, they received the “A” grade, which makes this rating the second consecutive high grading they have received from Leap Frog.

Angela Becker, the Associate Vice President of Quality for Trident Health, says over the last year the executive team has focused on cultivating a culture of safety that makes sure to recognize any near-miss that happens to a patient.

“If we catch an error before it happens and we’ve corrected that before it reaches the patient, if we can trace that back and figure out how we almost gave the wrong medication for instance, then we can fix those processes,” Becker said.

Becker says there are several grading systems out there for hospital and patient safety, and not all of them use the most current data.

She says it’s up to the consumer to sit down and they can find out which hospital is the best for what they need.

“When you’re looking online at different safety ratings and you see for instance that Trident received an A, you can be assured that we are following best practices,” Becker said. “That means they are vetted through research throughout the nation and it’s a bundle of care, or a process that we know will provide the best outcome for the patient.”

These are the Lowcountry hospital safety grades that were released for Fall 2019:

  • Beaufort Memorial Hospital: A
  • Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital: A
  • Trident Medical Center: A
  • Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC): B
  • Mount Pleasant Hospital: B
  • Roper Hospital: B
  • Summerville Medical Center: C

MUSC released the following statement:

“Our scores can be misleading as reported by Leapfrog because unlike many other hospitals, we were using the most sensitive c-diff test available, which meant we were detecting asymptomatic carriers of c diff. This in turn artificially inflated the result of actual infections. We have recently adopted a more robust two-step testing protocol so that our data is more accurate in terms of what needs to be publicly reported and tracked. We also have implemented and continuously improve upon a very robust program for antibiotic prescribing across the hospital (known as antimicrobial stewardship) and as you know from the copper story, very strict guidelines and adherence to environmental cleaning protocols.

-Surgical site infections and lung collapses: These metrics do not paint a complete picture because they do not account for the level of complexity across the patients we see at MUSC. For example, the grades do not account for patients with numerous comorbidities who are undergoing cardiothoracic procedures and then experience these complications. They also do not account for the fact that many of these patients are referrals from other hospitals without the level of expertise and knowledge needed for caring for medically complex patients and thus preventing these complications earlier in the treatment process. Of course, we actively monitor these types of complications and have implemented numerous quality improvement programs across multiple specialty areas in an effort to improve upon our rates.

MUSC Health strongly supports providing the public and patients with transparent and meaningful safety and quality of care information. We spend a lot of time, energy and effort to analyze, understand and improve on quality and safety measures that we consistently track. Unfortunately, LeapFrog assigning “grades” implies that hospitals have been measured on an equal basis; that is not accurate. For example, the MUSC Health hospitals in Charleston perform a wider array of complex and common procedures than other hospitals and thus reported more data, which can negatively impact its grade.

Within MUSC’s Regional Health Network, three of the smaller hospitals (Lancaster, Marion, and Chester) self-submitted and were graded for the first time as part of the MUSC Health system, and it’s important to interpret those grades with the understanding that hospitals tend to perform better over time as they better understand the survey methods, metrics, and submission requirements for this and other rankings systems. This is likely the case with MUSC Health Florence Medical Center, who has self-submitted in the past; although MUSC Health Chester submitted their information, their size/volume ultimately disqualified them from receiving a grade.

Finally, consumers should also be aware that the data used to assess hospitals is sometimes more than two years old and does not reflect more recent performance improvement efforts for individual hospitals.

MUSC Health cautions consumers against using these grades in isolation when making important care decisions so they are not inadvertently steered away from the best hospitals for their conditions.”

A spokesperson for Summerville Medical also sent Live 5 News a statement that read, “Summerville Medical Center is committed to quality and safety. We have been working diligently to improve safety by preventing hospital acquired infections and focusing on quality initiatives, which we expect to see reflected in the next Leapfrog Safety grade release. Positive patient outcomes are our top priority.”

Copyright 2019 WCSC. All rights reserved.