How does your local hospital score on safety?

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - This week, The Leapfrog Group released its list of Hospital Safety Grades to score more than 2,600 general acute-care hospitals on patient safety.

WHNT News 19 has compiled a list of Tennessee Valley hospitals and the score each received:

  • Athens-Limestone Hospital: C
  • Crestwood Medical CenterC
  • Cullman Regional Medical Center: C
  • Decatur Morgan Hospital: C
  • DeKalb Regional Medical Center: B
  • Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital: C
  • Helen Keller Hospital: B
  • Highlands Medical Center: B
  • Huntsville Hospital: C
  • Lincoln Medical Center: B
  • Marshall Medical Center North: C
  • Marshall Medical Center South: C
  • Maury Regional Hospital: A
  • Russellville Hospital: A
  • Shoals Hospital: C

These grades come from the Fall 2017 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, assigning hospitals an A-F.

To view the full list of Alabama hospitals, click here. To search all hospitals by state, zip, or name, click here. There you will see the breakdown of how each hospital fared in each category: Infections; Problems with Surgery; Practices to Prevent Errors; Safety Problems; Doctors, Nurses & Hospital Staff.

Only one hospital in North Alabama received an A: Russellville Hospital. Huntsville Hospital, the state's second-largest hospital that functions as a not-for-profit institution, scored a C. In a statement Huntsville Hospital released, they say they appreciate the feedback.

There are many quality ratings which look at different things in health care. Like most hospitals, Huntsville Hospital participates actively in many of them, but not Leapfrog. The primary rating agency for hospitals in the United States is the Joint Commission which conducts extensive on-site surveys at hospitals for 3-5 days. Our most recent survey last December was excellent. Just yesterday, the Alabama Dept. of Public Health also released 2016 data showing that Alabama hospitals, including Huntsville Hospital, performed better than the national benchmark in preventing infections associated with catheters and central blood lines. Patient safety is our first priority and we appreciate any feedback we get, including Leapfrog. We try to learn from all of it.

Eliza Coffee Memorial in Florence responded to their C grade with the following statement:

"Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital is committed to providing high quality, safe, and compassionate care to all our patients. Our focus and activity in the area of quality and safety improvement happens on a daily basis and is not always represented in the reported data which can lag as much as 36 months in public reporting. We are honored by the increasing number of people who choose to receive care at ECM Hospital and will be vigilant in our efforts to compassionately serve and care for them."

We requested comment from several area hospitals about these grades, but because we asked after-hours we expect to hear from them on Thursday.

As far as how the state of Alabama ranks as a whole, we turn to this ranking list. On this list, Alabama ranks 42nd out of 49 states for which Leapfrog has data (Maryland was not ranked.) Out of the state's 49 hospitals, 7 received "A" grades. Tennessee ranked 29th with 18 of its 63 hospitals scoring an "A."

Leapfrog uses measures from multiple agencies to create these grades, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement. It also uses its own expert panel to decide what needs to be measured, and how, according to the Leapfrog website.

These are additional national findings provided by Leapfrog:

  • Of the 2,632 hospitals graded in this update, 832 earned an “A,” 662 a “B,” 964 a “C,” 159 a “D” and 15 an “F”
  • Hospitals with “F” grades are located in California, Washington D.C., Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Mississippi, and New York
  • Impressively, 59 hospitals nationwide have achieved an “A” in every scoring update since the launch of the Safety Grade in Spring 2012
  • The five states with the highest percentage of “A” hospitals this fall are Rhode Island, Maine, Hawaii, Idaho and Virginia
  • The five states with the lowest percentage of “A” hospitals this fall are North Dakota, Washington D.C., Delaware, Maryland and New York
  • The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public. It is updated every six months, once in the Fall and once in the Spring.

“Errors and infections in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in America, and people deserve to know which of their hospitals are best at preventing them,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog in a news release provided by the group.

Leapfrog states on its website that it conducts these evaluations because you have a choice of where you receive care. They want you to make the best choice for you, while promoting hospital transparency. Although, its website notes that Leapfrog believes you should never refuse care during an emergency because of a Hospital Safety Grade.

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