Parkview Regional Medical Center was the only area hospital to earn an A grade on The Leapfrog Group's fall hospital safety report card released Thursday.
The nonprofit health care provider raised its grade from the B it received in the spring. Before spring 2019, Parkview had earned 11 consecutive A grades.
In Parkview's case, the grade measures safety performance at two hospital buildings – the newer one north of Dupont Road and the older one at Randallia Drive and State Boulevard.
Lutheran, Dupont and St. Joseph hospitals, all part of Lutheran Health Network, earned C's. DeKalb Memorial Hospital, Bluffton Regional Medical Center and Kosciusko Community Hospital also earned C's.
A C grade places a hospital in the bottom half of hospitals nationwide for safety outcomes and protocols.
The Leapfrog Group, a Washington-based national nonprofit that measures health care quality, assigns grades twice each year based on 28 quality measures.
Safety measures include rates of blood and urinary tract infections; dangerous objects left in surgical patients' bodies; death from serious treatable complications; staff hand washing rates; communication about medicines; dangerous bedsores; and patient falls and injuries.
Each hospital's report card includes its score on each safety measure, and the average, best and worst hospitals' scores.
It's possible to use the report to focus on the areas that need improvement. For each measure, Leapfrog includes an explanation of what safer hospitals do to achieve best-in-class results.
Hospitals are judged using Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services safety reports and Leapfrog surveys filled out by officials at each hospital facility.
A dive into the data shows Lutheran Hospital officials declined to answer survey questions related to preventing errors through effective leadership and staff teamwork.
They also skipped questions about hand-washing and whether there are “enough qualified nurses” to treat patients.
On St. Joe's report card, local hospital officials indicated perfect performance in seven self-reported areas. Nine categories that are based on CMS data show the downtown hospital owned by Community Health Services failed to meet the performance level of average hospitals.
Dupont Hospital, which is in the same network as Lutheran and St. Joe, failed to complete just one of the requested survey areas, saying information wasn't available.
Lutheran Health Network responded to requests for comment with a lengthy statement that said, in part: “Lutheran Health Network is committed to providing safe, quality care for all of our patients. Our physicians, nurses and other staff members continue to take every opportunity to further increase quality and service network-wide.”
“Evidence-based best practices are employed and hospital leaders are rounding daily to support staff in their work to deliver safe care,” the emailed statement said.
“Hourly nurse rounding, consistent medication scanning and engaging patients in the transition of care at shift change are strengthening quality. Patient outcomes are constantly monitored to identify areas for improvement so we may quickly implement any needed changes.”
Lutheran spokeswoman Kara Stevenson said Lutheran Hospital has not always completed Leapfrog surveys because it is “a time-consuming and intense process.” But, more recently, hospital officials have decided to participate.
As for St. Joe, Stevenson said hospital officials indicated on that survey whether it had certain safety processes in place but didn't say staff couldn't improve.
St. Joe received an F grade 12 months ago, the only failing grade in Indiana, and a D in the spring. Lutheran has had consistent C's the past two grading periods, and Dupont earned a B last fall before dropping to a C in the spring.
Of the more than 2,600 hospitals graded, 33% earned an A, 25% earned a B, 34% earned a C, 8% a D and less than 1% an F.
Nationwide, 36 hospitals have achieved an A in every grading update since the launch of the Safety Grade in spring 2012.
Parkview was in that elite group until it stumbled earlier this year.
Ben Miles, president of Parkview Regional Medical Center and Affiliates, issued a statement Thursday on the most recent results.
“Excellent care requires excellent safety measures. We are proud to once again receive an 'A' rating in recognition of the world-class teamwork demonstrated by our quality and safety teams, along with all caregivers in the hospital, who make safety a priority every single day,” he said.
“Safety is never 'complete,'” he added. “We are continuously working to improve safety for our patients and our caregivers, and pushing ourselves to achieve even greater safety standards.”
Leah Binder, The Leapfrog Group's president and CEO, said hospital safety has improved over the past two decades, as evidenced by an analysis released this year by the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality.
Researchers there found 45,000 fewer deaths than a 2016 analysis, based on the prevalence of safety problems in hospitals graded by The Leapfrog Group.
“In stark contrast to 20 years ago, we're now able to pinpoint where the problems are, and that allows us to grade hospitals,” Binder said in a statement.
“It also allows us to better track progress. Encouragingly, we are seeing fewer deaths from the preventable errors we monitor in our grading process.”
At a glance
The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit that measures health care quality, on Thursday released grades for more than 2,600 acute care hospitals nationwide. The organization issues grades twice a year. Following are four local hospitals' grades for safety:
Dupont Hospital: C
Lutheran Hospital: C
Parkview Regional: A
St. Joseph Hospital: C