Correction: This story has been updated from the original to note that Twin Cities Community Hospital has consistently earned an A since 2013.
All four hospitals in San Luis Obispo County and Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria have received A ratings for overall patient safety from a national hospital watchdog group.
The Leapfrog Group, which rates more than 2,500 hospitals nationwide for patient safety, issues its ratings report twice a year. The Spring 2016 Hospital Safety Score released last week gave A’s to French Hospital Medical Center in San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande Community Hospital and Marian Regional Medical Center, all owned by Dignity Health; it also gave A’s to Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center in San Luis Obispo and Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, both owned by Tenet Healthcare.
Of the 2,571 hospitals issued a score nationwide, 798 received A ratings. French Hospital, Sierra Vista, Twin Cities and Marian also were among just 153 hospitals nationwide to consistently earn an A for safety since 2013. Arroyo Grande varied between A and B ratings during that time. The ratings report can be found at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.
Leapfrog creates its scores using 30 performance measures for safety issues in five categories: hospital-acquired infections; problems with surgery, such as surgical wounds reopening; error prevention, such as proper handling of medications; safety issues, such as patient falls; and staffing issues, such as specially trained doctors in the intensive care unit.
Data are collected through a Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the American Hospital Association’s annual survey, and from several federal agencies — the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
While all of the hospitals in the region received an overall A rating, their scores varied in specific measures.
French, Sierra Vista and Twin Cities, for instance, all scored above average in all five measures for avoiding safety problems but below average in either two or three of the five measures for hospital-acquired infections.
Twin Cities rated above average in five of six measures for using practices to avoid errors but below average in four of the six measures for having problems with surgery. Those low ratings — using Medicare data from 2012-14 — were in the categories of surgical wounds splitting open, deaths from treatable complications, collapsed lungs and accidental cuts and tears in surgery.
The Leapfrog report included an analysis of the more than 200,000 avoidable deaths that occur in U.S. hospitals every year and found that more than 162,000 occurred in hospitals with ratings lower than an A.
“It is time for every hospital in America to put patient safety at the top of their priority list because tens of thousands of lives are at stake,” Leah Binder, Leapfrog Group president and CEO, said in a news release.“The Hospital Safety Score alerts consumers to the dangers, but as this analysis shows, even A hospitals are not perfectly safe.”
Both Dignity Health and Tenet Healthcare issued news releases celebrating their A ratings.
“These publicly reported ratings empower patients and allow them to make more informed decisions about the facilities in which they receive their care,” said Dr. Gene Keller, vice president of quality at Dignity Health Central Coast. “Our dedicated team of physicians, employees, and volunteers provide the highest levels of quality and care for our patients, and we are proud of The Leapfrog Group’s acknowledgment of these efforts.”
Sierra Vista CEO Joe DeSchryver said, “We are proud of both hospitals’ recent A grade, as we believe it recognizes the tireless commitment of our staff and physicians throughout the Central Coast community to provide our patients with care that is safe and of the highest quality.”
Twin Cities CEO Mark Lisa said, “Patient safety requires constant vigilance, and we will continue our unrelenting commitment to patients by consistently working to provide a safe environment for care.”