The Leapfrog Group this week released its widely-recognized hospital safety grades, with northeast Mississippi hospitals receiving a range of scores.
As previously reported, the safety grade assigns a standard A-F letter grade to all general hospitals across the country based on their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.
The Starkville Daily News took an in-depth look at the data presented and spoke with hospital administrators to break down each individual hospital and how it was graded.
OCH Regional Medical Center
OCH Regional Medical Center saw improvement over the previous year, with its Leapfrog grade climbing to an “A” for the first time since the fall of 2017.
The hospital’s score improved this fall from a “B” in the spring.
OCH Administrator and CEO Jim Jackson said achieving an “A” rating in patient safety requires a team approach and a commitment to continual improvement.
He then said through education about new maternal guidelines, the hospital was able to decrease its episiotomy rates and have also taken steps to decrease rates of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infection (CAUTI).
“Other areas of progress include our computer physician order entry (CPOE) and bar code medication administration (BCMA) systems,” Jackson explained. “By improving compliance with these systems, we were able to reduce errors and improve patient safety.”
While data for infection safety was limited for OCH, the Leapfrog report showed the hospital performed above average for safety related to Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and fever. In the only other metric mentioned concerning infection safety, the hospital finished at the average for hospitals.
OCH graded exceptionally well for safety relating to problems with surgery, coming in at above average for dangerous objects left in patient’s bodies, surgical wounds split out, collapsed lung, serious breathing problems, dangerous blood clots and accidental cuts and tears.
OCH received a mixed bag in terms of practices to prevent errors, including below average ratings for doctors ordering medication through a computer, safe medication administration and communication about discharge.
Conversely, OCH was rated above average for hand washing and hospital staff working together to prevent errors. OCH was rated average for communication about medicines.
The category for safety problems saw the hospital perform well, coming in at above average for dangerous bed sores, patient falls and injuries, air or gas bubbles in patient’s blood and tracking and reducing risks to patients.
For the hospital’s doctors, nurses and staff, OCH was given above average ratings for effective leadership to prevent errors, having enough qualified nurses, communication with doctors and nurses and the responsiveness of hospital staff.
OCH received below average marks for having specially trained doctors care for patients in its Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
NORTH MISSISSIPPI MEDICAL CENTER - WEST POINT
North Mississippi Medical Center in West Point finished among the lowest grades in the state, which is the first time the Clay County hospital has received a Leapfrog grade since the spring of 2016, when it was given an “A.”
NMMC-West Point Administrator Barry Keel said the hospital was obviously disappointed in its Leapfrog score this time and doesn’t believe that it truly reflects the great care offered at the hospital.
“Because we are a small hospital, sometimes we meet the data quantity threshold to be scored and sometimes we don’t,” he said. “When we do meet the threshold, the quantity of data being scored may be very low and even a very slight variance can easily sway our results. While we’re disappointed, we are committed to work even harder to ensure our next score more accurately reflects the great care provided here.”
While all but one of the subcategories for infections were unavailable in the Leapfrog report, NMMC-West Point scored above average for safety related to Clostridium difficile.
The hospital also performed well for safety relating to problems with surgery, finishing above average for dangerous objects left inside a patient’s body, collapsed lung, serious breathing problems, dangerous blood clots and accidental cuts and tears.
NMMC-West Point also finished at average for safety in regards to surgical wounds split open.
Conversely, practices to prevent errors saw the hospital decline to report on the following subcategories: Doctors ordering medications through a computer, safe medication administration, hand washing and staff working together to prevent errors.
Also, NMMC-West Point was rated below average for communication about medicines and communication about discharge.
The hospital then received a range of scores for general safety problems, finishing above average for dangerous bed sores and air or gas bubbles in patient’s blood, but came in below average for patient falls and injuries.
The hospital declined to report on its tracking and reducing of risks to patients.
Another one of the hospital’s underperforming subcategories came for doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
In this subcategory, NMMC-West Point finished below average for having specially trained doctors care for ICU patients, communication with doctors and communication with nurses.
While the hospital also declined to report for effective leadership to prevent errors and having enough qualified nurses, it did finish above average for responsiveness of hospital staff.
While the Tupelo-based health system’s West Point affiliate came in on the low end, its other hospitals in the area performed well, with North Mississippi Medical Center-Tupelo and North Mississippi Medical Center Gilmore-Amory both receiving “A” grades for fall 2019.
“We are pleased to have earned an A grade for the eighth time in a row in the Leapfrog update as it recognizes the safe, quality care we provide to our patients,” said J. Allen Tyra, administrator of the Amory hospital. “Gilmore has always been committed to providing the highest standards of care to our patients, and this grade is reflective of the hard work of our staff and physicians.”
BAPTIST MEMORIAL HOSPITAL GOLDEN TRIANGLE (COLUMBUS)
Consistently performing among the state’s best hospitals for safety, Baptist Memorial Hospital Golden Triangle once against retained its “A” grade from Leapfrog.
“I am so proud of our team of dedicated employees and physicians,” said Baptist Golden Triangle CEO and Administrator Paul Cade. “They consistently provide ‘straight A’ care, and I’m so happy Leapfrog continues to recognize their hard work and dedication.”
The Columbus-based hospital saw a range of scores for its approach to safety for infections, finishing below average for Clostridium difficile and surgical site infection after colon surgery. However, Baptist Memorial received above average marks for MRSA infection, infection in the blood of patients and urinary tract infections.
Baptist Memorial likely will have the most work to improve its safety ratings for problems with surgery, with Leapfrog rating the hospital below average for safety relating to death from serious treatable complications, in addition to accidental cuts and tears during surgery.
The hospital, though, was rated above average for dangerous objects left in a patient’s body, surgical wounds split open, collapsed lung, serious breathing problems and dangerous blood clots.
Baptist Memorial also performed well for practices to prevent errors, finishing above average in the following subcategories: Doctors ordering medications through a computer, safe medication administration, hand washing, communication about medicines and staff working together to prevent errors.
While scores were mostly good for Baptist Memorial in this subcategory, the hospital did finish below average for communication about discharge.
Perhaps most important for the hospital, Baptist Memorial finished with above average marks across the board for all subcategories under general safety problems, along with the subcategory for doctors, nurses and hospital staff.