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St. Joseph graded F for safety

November 13, 2018

St. Joseph Hospital in Fort Wayne is the only hospital in Indiana : and one of only 17 in the nation : to get a failing grade in the newest edition of a semiannual hospital safety report.

The Leapfrog Group report, which was released Nov. 8, assesses more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide based on preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

About one third of hospitals received A grades. Twenty-four percent earned a B, 37 percent a C, 6 percent a D and just under 1 percent an F.

St. Joseph slipped from three straight D’s in reports issued in earlier this year and in 2017. Lutheran Hospital inched up from three straight D’s to a C, and Dupont improved from a D in the last three surveys to a B. All three are part of the Lutheran Health Network.

Meanwhile, Parkview Regional Medical Center received its 11th straight A grade : one of more than 800 to achieve an A in the survey.

To assign grades, the safety report uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data.

Although St. Joseph performed better than average in some areas, it was downgraded on some aspect of each of the main categories.

The hospital performed below average on infection rates, including hospital-acquired blood and urinary tract infections and infections with a bacterial species, Clostridium difficile, that causes severe diarrhea and often occurs after antibiotic use.

The hospital also performed below average on the incidence of a collapsed lung as a complication of surgery, prevalence of bed sores and falls, availability of specialists for intensive care patients and responsiveness of the staff.

Several aspects about medication practices : including computerized ordering of medications by doctors, safe medication administration and communication with patients about medicines and discharge : also were below average.

The hospital also did not report on several measures the report cited as key, including whether there are enough qualified nurses and hand-washing protocols.

Geoff Thomas, Lutheran Health spokesman, said hospitals are not required to report information to Leapfrog.

“We’re very disappointed in the grade St. Joe was given, but understand that some of the data analyzed for this report date back several years and may not reflect recent progress,” he said in an emailed statement.

He provided a list of nine areas in which St. Joseph had no problems in 2018, including bloodstream and catheter-associated urinary tract infections listed as downgrades.

“Every element Leapfrog uses to assign its safety grades is an area of constant focus for our hospitals, regardless of whether they accepted or declined the invitation to voluntarily submit information for this most recent survey,” Thomas said.

Hospital officials are “encouraged with the progress that’s being made network-wide in key quality measures,” the statement added. “Opportunities still exist, and we’re committed to a culture of continuous improvement.”

Despite the A grade, Parkview performed below average on 11 of 28 measures, including falls, serious bed sores, Clostridium and post-colon surgery infections, reopened surgical wounds and accidental cuts and tears.

But it scored generally well on medication error reduction practices, handwashing and communication.

Parkview President Ben Miles said the grade the medical center received reflected the dedication of staff members.

“This recognition truly belongs to Parkview Health’s quality and safety teams, as well as the caregivers in our hospital, who are making patient safety a priority in their work day in and day out,” he said.

For the first time this year, the survey included an assessment of hospitals’ use of Bar Code Medication Administration, which can reduce the risk of giving the wrong drug to a patient at bedside.

Medication errors are the most common mistakes made in hospitals, with harm from these mistakes affecting as many as one-in-four patients, according to the survey group.

Preventable errors and infections in hospitals, studies say, kill more than 500 people every day in the United States, the group reports.

More about the records of these and other local hospitals’ ratings is at www.hospitalsafetygrade.org.

rsalter@jg.net

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