Local hospitals get high marks from rating group on patient safety

By Michael Campbell – News Editor

Illness can strike at anytime and, when you have to be taken to a hospital, you hope it’s one that prides itself on patient safety to help you recover.

For several hospitals in the region, that’s the case according to new data from an independent rating program.

In The Leapfrog Group’s annual Hospital Safety Grade report, which grades over 2,600 hospitals from “A” to “F,” Petersburg’s Southside Regional Medical Center received a “B,” while Hopewell’s John Randolph Medical Center was given an overall score of “A” by the group.

“In the fast-changing health care landscape, patients should be aware that hospitals are not all equally competent at protecting them from injuries and infections,” remarked Leapfrog president and CEO Leah Binder. “We believe everyone has the right to know which hospitals are the safest and encourage community members to call on their local hospitals to change, and on their elected officials to spur them to action. States that put a priority on safety have shown remarkable improvements.”

When looking at specific numbers for Southside Regional, the hospital performed well when it came to preventing infection during ICU stays and after surgeries, as well as dealing with MRSA, or Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, which is resistant to many antibiotics and can be found in bed linens or medical equipments and could be spread if providers don’t wash their hands between patients.

In an area where SRMC performed below average among hospitals rated was dealing with C. diff, or Clostridium difficile, which can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and fever.

In their report, the group suggested that hospitals ensure they separate C. diff patients from others, practice safe cleaning procedures and require providers and visitors to wear gloves and gowns around C. diff patients.

SRMC received mixed marks in the Leapfrog Group’s report in terms of problems in surgery, with the hospital performing “below average” when it comes to surgical wounds splitting open, serious breathing problems, and accidental cuts and tears.

Additionally, SRMC performed below average in the group’s report in the area of doctors ordering medications through the computer and communications about discharge. According to Leapfrog Group, SRMC “declined to report” information on accurately recording patient medications, handwashing and if the staff works together to prevent errors.

SRMC was average when it came to dealing with and preventing patient falls according to the report but performed above average in preventing dangerous bed sores and air or gas bubbles in a patient’s blood.

The Petersburg hospital declined to report on if they conducted training to improve safety, if there was “effective leadership” to prevent errors and if there were enough trained nurses or if there were “specially trained doctors for ICU patients.”

Southside Regional received a “C” in the spring of this year, which was a decline from the “A” letter grade they received in the fall of last year.

For John Randolph Medical Center, this is the third “A” letter grade the hospital has received from the group since fall of 2015.

The Hopewell medical center performed above average in most areas of infection prevention and treatment and preventing problems with surgeries. John Randolph was average in the area dangerous blood clots related to surgeries and below average in serious breathing problems in connection with surgeries.

John Randolph, which is a member of the HCA Virginia Health System, received above average marks for the practices and steps it takes to prevent errors and addressing and preventing issues that could impact patient safety.

While the hospital did receive some of the highest scores of any facility in the areas of training to improve safety, “effective leadership” to prevent errors, having enough qualified nurses and specially trained doctors for their ICU patients, the hospital performed below average when it came to communication with doctors and nurses, along with responsiveness to hospital staff.

John Randolph is among 31 hospitals in Virginia rated by The Leapfrog Group in their fall report to receive an “A” rating, placing the Commonwealth 10th in the nation, with 47 percent of Virginia’s hospitals receiving “A” ratings.

North Carolina has climbed from number 19 in the country in the Spring 2013 Safety Grade to number five in the Fall 2016 Safety Grade. Idaho has also made continuous strides, moving from number 45 in Spring 2013 to number two in Fall 2016.

Other states with notable improvements include Utah, ranked number six in the Fall 2016 Safety Grade, and Vermont, ranked number eight.

For the first time, the top ranked state is Hawaii, while the bottom-ranked states, each with no “A” hospitals, are Alaska, Delaware and North Dakota, along with Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2016 by Womack Publications 

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