Local Hospitals’ Patient Safety Report Cards Fail to Make the Grade

Preventable medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States, following heart disease and cancer, claiming nearly a half million lives each year. Hospitals have both a legal and ethical duty to protect their patients from harm but not all hospitals are created equal where patient safety is concerned.

Newly published hospital patient safety scores show mixed reviews for Louisville area hospitals. Leapfrog Hospital Safety Group, a non-profit consumer healthcare advocacy group based out of Washington, D.C., publishes a bi-annual hospital patient safety report. The purpose of the report is two-fold: to help consumers find the best hospitals in their area and to help hospitals pinpoint where they can improve patient safety standards.

How Patient Safety Scores are Determined

Leapfrog grades hospital patient safety on a review of 30 safety and performance measures contained in hospital safety data. Leapfrog then assigns a letter grade, A – F, based on a hospitals’ safety performance record in several different categories:

  • Infection rates, including MRSA and C. diff
  • Falls, injuries, and accidents suffered by the patient while in the hospital
  • Surgical site infections
  • Blood and urinary tract infections
  • Blood clots
  • Post-surgical problems such as a collapsed lung or whether a surgical instrument is left in a patient’s body
  • Hand-washing
  • Unintentional cuts and tears, or surgical sites splitting open
  • Whether the hospital trains employee and staff on patient safety, and consciously evaluates how to reduce preventable medical errors
  • Death

Leapfrog first published its hospital safety report cards in 2012, and just released its Fall 2017 findings. In its Fall 2017 report, Leapfrog safety experts evaluated data from 2,673 hospitals nationwide. No Kentucky hospital earned an F and since the Fall 2016 report, Kentucky has improved one spot in its patient safety rating from 35th to 34th in the nation.

How Did Local Hospitals Do?

Norton Hospitals

Over 50 Kentucky hospitals were evaluated and only one local hospital made the grade. Norton Women’s and Children’s Hospital earned an A in the Fall 2017 evaluation, up from a B in last year’s Fall report.

Two other Norton Hospitals, Norton Audubon and Norton Hospital (downtown), raised their grade from a C to a B since November 2016, while Norton Brownsboro Hospital made no gains in patient safety over the last four evaluation periods keeping a C grade.

Baptist Hospitals

Three local hospitals in the Baptist network all received C’s, a downgrade for Baptist Floyd and Baptist Health LaGrange since the Spring 2017 evaluation where both facilities earned B’s. Baptist Health Louisville kept its C from the Spring 2017 evaluation, a drop from the B it earned in Fall 2016.

U of L, Jewish, and Sts. Mary & Elizabeth’s Hospitals

There were only 159 D’s given in the nation out of 2,673 hospitals evaluated and three of our local hospitals earned this dismal grade. Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital, University of Louisville Hospital, and Jewish Hospital all again received D’s, the fourth evaluation in a row with a D for each.

What You Can Do to Help Improve Patient Safety Standards

When searching for a hospital for yourself or a loved one, demand the facility you choose have the highest patient safety standards. Leapfrog says we all can help keep hospital patient safety a top priority by doing the following when in the hospital:

  • Be proactive. Hospital personnel work hard to do a good job, but human beings make honest mistakes. Don’t let the fear of hurting someone’s feelings stop you from speaking up about a preventable medical error.
  • Report incidents immediately. If you see something, say something. Hospitals can’t address your concerns if they don’t know there is a problem.
  • Follow up with the hospital after you report a problem to find out how it was handled.

Follow this link to learn more about the patient safety scores for your local hospitals, and to help you make a more informed decision about where to insist on your hospital care: https://www.hospitalsafetygrade.org