Dozens of Kentucky Hospitals Got a “C” in National Patient Safety Ratings

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit organization based in the United States that focuses on improving healthcare quality and safety. They recently rated 61 Kentucky hospitals, finding that the majority of them received a “C” rating.

Per the Sentinel Echo, “Leapfrog gave A ratings to four Kentucky hospitals; Kentucky’s percentage of A grades, 6.6%, ranked it 46th among states. That was down 10 slots from the last report, when it ranked 36th. Leapfrog gave Bs to 15 Kentucky hospitals, Cs to 31, Ds to 10 and an F to one, in Hazard.”

These grades are based on more than 30 variables that indicate how well hospitals “protect patients from preventable errors, injuries, accidents and infections, and whether hospitals have systems in place to prevent them.”

Regarding the nationwide report, Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog group, said in a statement:

The dramatic spike in HAIs [hospital-acquired infections] reported in this Safety Grade cycle should stop hospitals in their track. Infections like these can be life or death for some patients. We recognize the tremendous strain the pandemic put on hospitals and their workforce, but alarming findings like these indicate hospitals must recommit to patient safety and build more resilience.

How do Leapfrog’s ratings work?

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade assigns letter grades (A, B, C, D, or F) to hospitals based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections, and other patient safety issues. The ratings are designed to provide a snapshot of a hospital's safety record and help patients and healthcare consumers make informed decisions about where to seek care.

Here's an overview of how Leapfrog's ratings work:

  • Data collection. Leapfrog collects data from hospitals through its annual Leapfrog Hospital Survey. The survey assesses various aspects of hospital safety and quality, including processes and structures that are known to be associated with improved patient outcomes.
  • Scoring methodology. Leapfrog uses a rigorous scoring methodology to evaluate hospitals based on the survey responses and publicly available data. The methodology is developed and reviewed by a panel of experts in patient safety, healthcare quality, and related fields.
  • Performance indicators. The survey assesses hospitals on a range of performance indicators, including but not limited to:
    • Hand hygiene practices
    • Infection rates (such as surgical site infections and healthcare-associated infections)
    • Practices to prevent patient falls and injuries
    • Policies to prevent errors and adverse events
    • Staffing levels for healthcare professionals
  • Calculation of grades. Hospitals are then assigned grades based on their performance relative to national benchmarks. The grades are calculated using a formula that considers both process measures (e.g., policies and procedures) and outcome measures (e.g., actual rates of infections or complications).
  • Public reporting. Leapfrog publicly releases the Hospital Safety Grades, making them available on their website and other platforms. This information is intended to empower patients and encourage transparency in the healthcare system.

It’s important to note that 52 facilities in Kentucky declined to send information to Leapfrog’s data collection request, meaning there is little public data available about the safety of these particular hospitals.

What are the major dangers associated with hospitals?

Hospital safety is a concern for everyone, especially patients, and various dangers pose risks to patients within healthcare settings. Some of the major dangers associated with hospital safety include the following:

Hospitals can be breeding grounds for healthcare-associated infections, and patients are at risk of acquiring infections during their stay. HAIs can result from inadequate hand hygiene, contaminated medical equipment, or exposure to pathogens in the hospital environment. Common HAIs include urinary tract infections, surgical site infections, and pneumonia.

Medication errors are a significant safety concern in hospitals. Mistakes in prescribing, dispensing, or administering medications can lead to adverse drug reactions, overdoses, or ineffective treatment. Factors contributing to medication errors may include communication breakdowns, illegible handwriting, or confusion about drug names.

Surgical procedures involve inherent risks, and errors during surgery can have serious consequences. Surgical site infections, wrong-site surgery, and complications due to anesthesia are examples of safety issues that can arise in the operating room. Proper preoperative protocols and effective communication among surgical teams are essential for patient safety.

Falls are a common safety concern in hospitals, particularly among elderly or frail patients. Factors such as inadequate supervision, environmental hazards, and certain medications can contribute to the risk of falls. Hospitals need strong fall prevention programs to identify and address these factors.

Communication failures among healthcare providers can lead to serious safety lapses. Inaccurate or incomplete transfer of information between shifts, departments, or healthcare professionals can result in delayed or incorrect diagnoses, improper treatments, and compromised patient safety.

Diagnostic errors, including delayed or incorrect diagnoses, are a significant safety concern. Failure to accurately identify medical conditions can lead to inappropriate treatments, delayed interventions, and worsened patient outcomes. Effective communication among healthcare teams and access to diagnostic tools are critical for reducing diagnostic errors.

Patients who are immobile or bedridden for extended periods are at risk of developing pressure ulcers, also known as bedsores. These painful and potentially serious skin injuries can result from prolonged pressure on specific areas of the body. Adequate patient repositioning and preventive measures are essential to avoid pressure ulcers.

Hospitals that prioritize patient safety should be implementing strategies to mitigate these risks and provide high-quality, safe healthcare environments. Regular evaluation and improvement of safety measures contribute to a safer patient healthcare experience. This is why Leapfrog’s safety ratings are so important – they keep information transparent and available to the general public, allowing patients to make more informed decisions about their care.

Which Kentucky hospitals got high grades?

You can see all Kentucky hospital ratings here, but when the Sentinel published this article, the four “A” level hospitals were:

  • Baptist Health Lexington
  • Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester
  • The Medical Center at Bowling Green
  • Elizabeth Healthcare-Ft. Thomas

The Fall 2023 rankings saw more hospitals with “A” grades and saw some of those four slip in the rankings. As of February 2024, a dozen hospitals throughout Kentucky were considered “A” level hospitals by Leapfrog:

  • Baptist Health La Grange
  • Baptist Health Lexington
  • Meadowview Regional Medical Center
  • Medical Center at Bowling Green
  • Norton Audubon Hospital
  • Norton Brownsboro Hospital
  • Norton Hospital
  • Norton Women's & Children's Hospital
  • Saint Joseph - London
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare - Edgewood
  • T. J. Samson Community Hospital
  • Tristar Greenview Regional Hospital

Another 13 earned Bs, including three of the four on the original list:

  • Baptist Health Louisville
  • Baptist Health Paducah
  • Clark Regional Medical Center
  • Deaconess Henderson Hospital
  • King's Daughters Medical Center
  • Monroe County Medical Center
  • Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital
  • Saint Joseph East
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare - Florence
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare - Ft. Thomas
  • UK Good Samaritan Hospital
  • UofL Health Shelbyville Hospital
  • Whitesburg ARH Hospital

Which Kentucky hospitals got low grades?

You can see all Kentucky hospital ratings here. Per the Sentinel:

Two Kentucky hospitals moved down from C to a D. Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson got a D after receiving Cs on the last three reports, and Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center in South Williamson got a D after receiving four Cs and one B in the last five reports.

Other hospitals with D grades are Murray-Calloway County Hospital, Pikeville Medical Center, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, St. Claire Regional Medical Center and UofL Health-Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

The only hospital that got an F was Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, down from a D on the last report. The last time a Kentucky hospital got an F on the Leapfrog report was in the fall of 2019, when Jewish Hospital received one. It got a C on this report card.

Since then, 27 hospitals earned “C” grades, and eight earned “Ds,” including Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center. The only hospital to receive a failing grade in Fall 2023 was Jennie Stewart Health, in Hopkinsville.

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