Personal Health|June 6, 2012 4:29 AM

Many Colorado hospitals miss top grade for patient safety

New website helps consumers check the record

The University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora was one of just seven hospitals that received an "A" for patient safety. Photo courtesy of University of Colorado Hospital

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Prompted by 180,000 unnecessary deaths per year in U.S. hospitals, a new listing of hospital safety scores finds most of the 33 rated in Colorado don’t make the top grade.

The Washington-based Leapfrog Group is dedicated to reducing deaths, infections and injuries in hospitals that should not have occurred. To put pressure on hospitals to reduce such incidents, a group of medical academics pored over data reported to Medicare by the 2,600 US hospitals, and then graded them.

Leapfrog director Leah Binder says about 400 people a day die from hospital infections, errors and accidents. In addition, about 1 million people are injured every year in hospitals.

The grades track such basics as whether hospitals failed to deliver proper medication in time – or at all, said Donna Marshall of the Colorado Business Group on Health. Other problems monitored include the level of nursing staff, giving the wrong blood, deaths from treatable complications, and post-surgery infections and breathing failure.

In Colorado, just 7 hospitals received A’s, 12 received B’s and 14 were given C’s. Details for each hospital can be found at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. The site was heavily used on Wednesday, its first day open to the public.

Failing grades of D or F were withheld. One hospital in Colorado – Exempla Lutheran in Wheat Ridge – fell in this category. The hospital received a “pending” grade. Marshall said reviewers are giving such hospitals time to improve before being labeled with a failing D or F grade.

SCL Health System, Lutheran’s parent company, said in a statement that its other three hospitals scored higher, demonstrating SCL’s commitment to quality. The company said Lutheran also is dedicated to quality and that recent and ongoing improvements should result in a good score in the next report.

Marshall said of the overall results that “I would have hoped we would have done better” in Colorado. Her group works with a number of hospitals to encourage them to improve, as part of the Leapfrog effort. But with this information now readily available, “we hope consumers will start to shop for care much more carefully.”

Several of the “A” grade hospitals are not in the heavily populated metro Denver region. They include the 49-bed Delta County Memorial Hospital on the Western Slope; St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction; and Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo.

Marshall said it was “outstanding” that the rural hospital in Delta “has such a dedication to excellence.”  She also cited University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, noting that it receives “the sickest of the sick” in the state and yet maintained high marks, when academic medical centers elsewhere in the United States did not.

The study did not grade children’s and other specialty and small hospitals, because their work did not match that of the larger, general facilities.

Centura, which operates eight of the hospitals in the report, with varying grades, praised the attention to quality, and noted that certain quality indicators are reported on Centura’s own website.

Donna Marshall

However, Centura vice president Wendi Dammann advised that consumers “don’t choose solely on one report.” Patients also can find recommendations and data on hospital performance even on specific procedures and illnesses, she said.

The Colorado Hospital Association applauded the look at quality but objected to the method of determining the grades, saying another recognized entity should have vetted them. Marshall said the grades were determined by leading academics, using publicly available data.

CHA also referred patients to other websites with quality data, including Medicare’s Hospital Compare http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/, the state’s data on infections http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/hf/patientsafety/, and CHA’s own Colorado Hospital Report Card. http://www.cohospitalquality.org

Colorado A-grade hospitals
Centura Health-Porter Adventist Hospital
Delta County Memorial Hospital
Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo
HCA – Rose Medical Center in Denver
HCA – Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lonetree
St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center in Grand Junction
University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora

Colorado B-grade hospitals
Centura Health-St. Anthony Central Hospital in Lakewood
Denver Health Medical Center in Denver
Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette
Exempla St. Joseph Hospital in Denver
McKee Medical Center in Loveland
HCA – Medical Center of Aurora
Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland
North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley
Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton
Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins
HCA – Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver
Sterling Regional MedCenter

Colorado C-grade hospitals
Boulder Community Hospital
Centura Health-Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville
Centura Health-Littleton Adventist Hospital
Centura Health-St. Anthony North in Westminster
Centura Health-Penrose St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs
Centura St. Mary Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo
Centura Parker Adventist Hospital
Community Hospital in Grand Junction
Longmont United Hospital
Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs
HCA – North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco
HCA – Swedish Medical Center in Englewood
Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs

Grade “Pending”
Exempla Lutheran in Wheat Ridge

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