Update: How state's hospitals fared in Leapfrog safety scores

The report cards are in and will certainly raise some eyebrows around the state, but the final result is that all of New Jersey's hospitals passed with a “C” or better.

The Leapfrog Group’s highly anticipated biannual Hospital Safety Scores for Fall 2015 show nearly half of the New Jersey hospitals that participated in the safety program performed at the highest level and received “A” grades. Fifteen hospitals received “B” grades and 20 hospitals received “C” grades, according to the Health Care Quality Institute.

Those whose grades slipped from a “B” to “C” include: AtlantiCare facilities in Atlantic County, Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May, Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, St. Luke’s Warren Campus in Phillipsburg, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus and CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold.

"We received the Leapfrog score we expected for this time frame," St. Luke's Warren Campus said in a statement. "This grade reflects a technology issue, not a quality issue. We are in the process of implementing some technology enhancements to our computerized physician order entry system, and we anticipate a positive impact in our score in the next survey."

In an emailed statement, Trinitas said: "Certainly, we're disappointed, given the emphasis we always place on quality. This report is a moment in time, and doesn't reflect the fact that we've already identified some areas where we have implemented successful interventions. "

Beth Israel Medical Center added in a statement: "Quality and exceptional performance are top priorities at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center.  We take ratings very seriously and carefully scrutinize our processes and procedures to help ensure improvement at every level.”

AtlantiCare did not provide information to Leapfrog, but the group used information provided to the American Hospital Association in 2013.

"Leapfrog has revised the measures that contribute to the score, which are significantly different from the last scoring period it published," Mary Beth Kelly, director, infection prevention and patient safety, AtlantiCare, said in a statement. "Measures including central line and/or catheter associated infections; or surgical site infection ratios, which are important safety indicators that appear on other scorecards, do not factor into Leapfrog’s method.

"We believe the tone of the report, that says some hospitals are safer than others, is an inaccurate categorization. These are complex issues. Sometimes a grade — not based on all parameters — can’t tell the whole story."

Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark improved from a “D” to a “C,” and Hackettstown Regional Medical Center improved from a “C” to a “B.”

Some systems remained consistent at “C,” “A” or “straight A” — a designation reserved for those who have remained at “A” since 2012.

“Consumers should use this data when making decisions about where to seek care for themselves and their families,” said Linda Schwimmer, CEO and president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute. “These scores reflect how well hospitals work to keep patients safe — from falls, infections, medication mistakes and other errors that kill or harm tens of thousands of Americans each year.”

Virtua’s three hospitals all received “A’s” for the third consecutive report.

“We are very proud that all of our hospitals have once again achieved ‘A’ ratings from the prestigious Leapfrog Group," said Virtua CEO and President Richard Miller, who told Leapfrog that rigorous training and monitoring ensure patient safety from the simplest to the most technologically advanced procedures.

CarePoint Health was also pleased with its results.

"We are extremely proud that all three hospitals in our system have achieved an 'A' grade,” said Dennis Kelly, CEO of CarePoint Health. “The CarePoint Health system takes great pride in providing excellence in health care, and this score shows that, as a system, we are committed to patient safety.”

Inspira Health Network, whose hospitals received "A's" and "B's," said the strong marks reflected its emphasis on safety.

"At Inspira, we have put structural processes in place and made staff education a priority to ensure we are providing our patients with safe care, every time they are in our hospitals,” said Paul Lambrecht, Inspira's vice president of quality and patient safety.

The state, on average, performed about the same as last spring, according to the HCQI. The scores are weighted as hospitals are compared with each other, so as quality improves, achieving an “A” becomes more difficult.

“No matter how large or small, no matter what kind of community they serve, all hospitals have the potential to give their patients this high level of safe care,” said Leah Binder, CEO and president of The Leapfrog Group.

So how does New Jersey fare in comparison to the rest of the country? Not the model, but not the student sitting in detention, either. New Jersey’s state ranking is 5, according to Leapfrog.

For the fourth time in a row, Maine had the highest percentage of “A” hospitals, with nearly 69 percent, according to Leapfrog. On the other end of the spectrum, no hospital in the District of Columbia, Alaska, North Dakota, New Mexico, Vermont or Wyoming received an “A” grade.

Original article