How safe are Chattanooga-area hospitals?

How safe are Chattanooga-area hospitals?

June 12th, 2012 by Mariann Martin in News

Memorial Hospital is located at 2525 de Sales Avenue in Chattanooga.

Photo by Angela Lewis/Times Free Press.

Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Photo by Jenna Walker/Times Free Press.

LEAPFROG SCORES

Parkridge Medical Center: A

99 percent of patients received right antibiotic

95 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: 116 per 1,000 patient discharges

Memorial Health Care System: A

100 percent of patients received right antibiotic

89 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: 87 per 1,000 patient discharges

Hamilton Medical Center: B

100 percent of patients received right antibiotic

94 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: 117 per 1,000 patient discharges

Erlanger Health System: C

97 percent of patients received right antibiotic

87 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: 136 per 1,000 patient discharges

Erlanger at Hutcheson: C

98 percent of patients received right antibiotic

86 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: Not available

Skyridge Medical Center: C

96 percent of patients received right antibiotic

68 percent of urinary catheters removed within two days of operation

Death from serious treatable complications after surgery: 125 per 1,000 patient discharges

Local Chattanooga hospitals received a mixed report card in a first-ever hospital safety review by a national patient-safety advocacy group, even as hospitals across the country protested the scores as incomplete and inaccurate.

The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, gave national hospitals a letter grade based on a Hospital Safety Score.

"The Hospital Safety Score exclusively measures safety -- meaning errors, accidents and infections," said Dr. Ashish Jha of Harvard University last week in a news release. "There is an overwhelming amount of information out there that could be useful when we are admitted to the hospital, but very few of us know what it is or where to find it."

Jha was one of the nine members of the panel that oversaw the compilation of the data.

In Chattanooga, Memorial Health Care System and Parkridge Medical Center each received an A, Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Ga., received a B, while Erlanger Health System, Erlanger at Hutcheson and Skyridge Medical Center in Cleveland, Tenn., all received a C.

C was the lowest grade issued, but in future years lower grades could be given when warranted, officials said.

Erlanger interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson called the report misleading and said patients should not use the report to decide where to seek care.

"Erlanger joins other leading hospitals around the country, including the Cleveland Clinic, Emory and Mount Sinai Medical Center, in disputing the scoring methodology used by Leapfrog," Woodard-Thompson said in an emailed statement. "Like other health care leaders around the country, Erlanger will continue to focus on the hospital report card from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as the most reliable source of evaluating hospitals. This is because we consider the CMS methodology of gathering and reporting data to be the most complete and up-to-date."

Hutcheson CEO Roger Forgey, who said his hospital has consistently scored well on evaluations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, questioned the objectivity of the Leapfrog survey.

"As with many larger health care institutions, we also feel that this data is outdated and does not directly reflect appropriate patient safety information," Forgey said in an email.

Prominent national hospitals that received lower rankings said the scores are not an accurate representation of their hospitals. The scores were "dumbed down" to a few simple measures, according to several national news articles.

The American Hospital Association also issued a statement questioning the scores. The statement said the group has supported some national rankings, but it does not support Leapfrog's letter grades because many of the measures are flawed.

"They do not accurately portray a picture of the safety efforts made by hospitals," said Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy for the association. "Hospitals were the first to provide quality data to the public and have been doing so for more than a decade. We believe that hospitals should be transparent with their quality and safety information so that communities know the efforts hospitals are making to improve care."

The Leapfrog Group was founded in November 2000 with support from the Business Roundtable and national funding groups and is now independently operated, according to its website. It has provided hospital information in the past, but this was the first time it compiled hospital safety scores. The score is based on 26 measures gathered from a Leapfrog hospital survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The numbers will be updated in November and then annually after that, according to a news release from Leapfrog.

Of the 2,652 general hospitals issued a score, 729 earned an A, 679 earned a B, and 1,243 earned a C, according to Leapfrog's news release. Massachusetts hospitals on average had the highest Hospital Safety Scores, while District of Columbia had the lowest average scores.

In Tennessee, 31 hospitals received an A, 12 got a B and 22 received a C. Four hospitals were not ranked because the panel required at least 14 measures for a hospital to calculate a score.

In Georgia, 13 hospitals received an A, 27 got a B and 35 received a C. Three hospitals were not ranked.

Locally, Memorial, Parkridge and Erlanger all got perfect marks from The Leapfrog Group Survey on their nursing workforce, hand hygiene and identification of hazards and risk, among other measures. Erlanger received a lower grade on its leadership structure and system.

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