New hospital safety report gives Carle Foundation a ‘C’ and OSF Heart of Mary a ‘B’
The Leapfrog Group issued its Fall 2023 Hospital Safety Grades on Monday. The report looks at metrics for patient safety and care quality and assigns an "A" to "F" rating to nearly 3,000 U.S. hospitals.
The biannual evaluation uses up to 30 metrics, including preventable errors and infections. Hospitals that opt out of the survey are rated using alternative data sources, including information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. OSF participated in this fall’s survey, and Carle did not.
The report gave OSF Heart of Mary high ratings for doctors ordering medications through a computer and specially trained doctors for ICU patients. The hospital scored below average in handwashing; this grade assesses both the presence of a hospital's handwashing policy and employee adherence to it.
Carle Foundation Hospital performed above average in preventing infection in the blood, and fell short in other areas, including handwashing, death from serious treatable complications and specially trained doctors for ICU patients.
Leapfrog’s goal is to provide patient safety information to as many hospitals as possible, regardless if they participate in the survey by providing data — or not, according to Katie Stewart, Leapfrog Group’s director of health care ratings.
“The Leapfrog Group was born out of this movement for transparency, and we’re driving change through transparency,” Stewart said.
Brittany Simon, manager of public relations at Carle Health, said in an email that Carle doesn’t participate due to the Leapfrog survey’s “limitations.” She declined to answer follow-up questions about what those limitations are.
Stewart said while she can’t speak to Carle’s specific concerns, Leapfrog is transparent in its approach to rating the hospitals, taking into account many factors through its gathered data and evidence.
“It does take effort to be transparent and to report that information,” Stewart said. “It is a commitment, but an important one for improving patient safety.”
In the past two years, OSF Heart of Mary received three “C” grades and one “B” grade. Carle Foundation Hospital received four “A” grades and one “B” grade. Simon said the reason for the lower ranking this year is because of the hospital’s recent decision to not participate in the survey.
“The change in our score is not a reflection of any reduction in quality or consistency of care provided at Carle Foundation Hospital,” Simon said in an email.
Stewart said consumers should take grades into consideration when choosing a hospital.
“Generally, going to an “A"-graded hospital is a safer choice in terms of their ability to have less errors, injuries and infections and their ability to prevent those things from happening,” she said.
The safety grade compares hospitals' performance on specific measures.
Stewart said these numbers score the individual measures evaluated, helping health care consumers interpret the letter grade.
Simon said Carle Health chooses to measure its performance quality through other metrics, including its ISO certification and a recent recognition by the American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program.
Stewart said Leapfrog’s safety grade differs from other ratings.
“There are other organizations that have other ratings programs, and it’s important for consumers to have that information, as well,” Stewart said. “But the safety grade is really the only rating and letter grade program that is strictly focused on safety and is an important tool for patients to have when making decisions about where to receive care, and also for hospitals to have that information.”
Stewart recommends consumers reach out to hospitals that didn’t participate in the survey to ask why they didn’t participate and make the information public. The Leapfrog Group’s website has a letter template to request this information from hospitals.
“The Leapfrog Hospital Survey does give consumers more comprehensive information and more up-to-date information and is certainly a tool that many hospitals use to make quality improvement to show their communities that patient safety is important,” she said.
Patti Penn, public relations and communications coordinator at OSF HealthCare, said in an email that physicians, nurses and staff at OSF HealthCare are dedicated to providing high-quality care to its patients. She acknowledged that the Leapfrog Group uses national performance measures in its evaluation.
“While we humbly accept this demonstration of our accomplishment, our team at OSF Heart of Mary also understands and embraces our need for continuous improvement,” Penn wrote in an email. “We know our journey to excellence is never done.”
This story was updated on Friday, Nov. 10 to include a response provided by OSF HealthCare.