Lexington SC hospital has A safety grade as other scores drop

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Two Midlands hospitals received the highest mark possible in the safety grades released by a medical watchdog group Wednesday. But a large number of area hospitals saw their drop since the last scores were released in the spring.

Lexington Medical Center was given an A grade, and is ranked among the safest hospitals in South Carolina, according to the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

The A was an improvement for Lexington Medical Center in the report from the Leapfrog Group, which issues biannual safety rankings. Lexington previously received a B in the spring grades, as well as the same score in the 2021 fall and spring ratings.

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The new tower at Lexington Medical Center. Tracy Glantz tglantz@thestate.com

Since 2012, the Leapfrog Group has published Hospital Safety Scores twice a year — once in the spring and once during the fall — to create transparency in the U.S. health system. The rating is focused on “errors, accidents, injuries and infections.”

Based on this criteria, other Columbia-Lexington-area hospitals received four Bs and one C for the fall. Those include:

Prisma Health Baptist Parkridge saw its grade drop one letter from A in the spring ranking to B, marking the first time since the 2019 grades the hospital wasn’t given an A

Prisma Health Baptist saw its grade drop one letter from A in the spring ranking to B

MUHA Columbia Medical Center Downtown, formerly Providence Health, saw its grade rise one letter from C in the spring ranking to B

MUSC Health Columbia Medical Center Northeast, formerly Providence Health Northeast, saw its grade rise one letter from C in the spring ranking to B

Prisma Health Richland repeated its score from the spring ranking of C

One other hospital in the Midlands received an A, while one that had an D in the spring remains the lowest rated hospital in South Carolina in the current ranking.

McCleod Health Clarendon in Manning repeated its score from the spring ranking of A, a grade it has received since 2020

Prisma Health Tuomey saw its grade drop one letter from A in the spring ranking to B

Newberry County Memorial Hospital saw its grade drop one letter from B in the spring ranking to C

MUSC Health Kershaw Medical Center saw its grade drop one letter from B in the spring ranking to C

Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties repeated its score from the spring ranking of D

Grading South Carolina

Overall in South Carolina, of the 51 hospitals that were ranked, 15 received a letter A. That’s a drop from 21 in the spring rankings.

No hospitals in the Palmetto State received an F in the fall grades. The D given to the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties was the lowest mark dispensed, and it was the only hospital scored that low.

Nationally, South Carolina ranked 21st among all states, with more than 29% of its hospitals scoring an A rating. That was a significant decrease from the spring (41%), when the Palmetto State was ranked 13th in the nation.

The bigger picture

New Hampshire (53.8%) saw a meteoric rise to become the top-rated state in the U.S. after placing in the middle of the pack at 25th in the spring grades. There was a three-way tie for lowest grade among North Dakota, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., as none had a hospital with an A grade.

“Upwards of 250,000 people die every year from preventable errors in hospitals,” the Leapfrog Group said. “It’s up to everyone to make sure that patient safety is the number one priority at every hospital across the United States.”

Leapfrog graded about 3,000 hospitals nationwide this fall, and 30% earned an A, 28% earned a B, 36% a C, 6% a D and 1% scored an F, according to its website.

The grades are based on safety data and rate how hospitals have “checks in place to prevent mistakes, and ensure strong lines of communication between hospital staff, patients, and families,” according to Leapfrog, which estimated about 160,000 people die every year from hospital errors, injuries, accidents, and infections.

This marks the 10th anniversary of the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade.

“Never in history have we seen across-the-board improvement in patient safety until this last decade, coinciding with the history of the Hospital Safety Grade,” Leapfrog Group President and CEO Leah Binder said in a news release. “We salute hospitals for this milestone and encourage them to accelerate their hard work saving patient lives. For a long time, the health care community tried to improve safety, but progress stalled. The big difference over this decade is that for the first time, we publicly reported each hospital’s record on patient safety, and that galvanized the kind of change we all hoped for. It’s not enough change, but we are on the right track.”

Leapfrog said measures that have shown significant improvement over the past decade include two “never events,” incidents of falls and trauma and incidents of objects unintentionally left in a body after surgery, both which decreased by around 25%. There was also encouraging pre-pandemic progress on healthcare-associated infections for MRSA, CLABSI, and C.Diff.

These improvements saved an estimated 16,000 lives, according to Leapfrog.

Despite the improvements, Leapfrog said more than 1,000 people will die today because of a preventable hospital error, and every year 1-of-25 patients will develop a preventable infection while in the hospital.

“Leapfrog advises the public never to reject emergency treatment based on a safety score, but to consult with a doctor about the best hospital for planned, elective procedures,” the News & Observer of Raleigh previously reported.

But Leapfrog’s study shows that patients at ‘D’ and ‘F’ hospitals face a greater risk of dying than those at hospitals graded A.

Making the grade

The Leapfrog safety grade is divided into two domains: Process/Structural Measures and Outcome Measures.

  • Process Measures represent how often a hospital gives patients recommended treatment for a given medical condition or procedure. For example, “Responsiveness of hospital staff” looks at patients’ feedback on how long it takes for a staff member to respond when they request help. Structural Measures represent the environment in which patients receive care. For example, “Doctors order medications through a computer” represents whether a hospital uses a special computerized system to prevent errors when prescribing medications.
  • Outcome Measures represent what happens to a patient while receiving care. For example, “Dangerous object left in patient’s body” measures how many times a patient undergoing surgery had a dangerous foreign object, like a sponge or tool, left in his or her body.

The Process Measures include:

Computerized Physician Order Entry

Bar Code Medication Administration

ICU Physician Staffing

Leadership Structures and Systems

Culture Measurement, Feedback & Intervention

Nursing Workforce

Hand Hygiene

Nurse Communication

Doctor Communication

Staff Responsiveness

Communication about Medicines

Discharge Information

Foreign Object Retained

Air Embolism

Falls and Trauma

CLABSI

CAUTI

SSI: Colon

MRSA

C. Diff.

Pressure Ulcer Rate

Death Rate among Surgical Inpatients with Serious Treatable Conditions

Iatrogenic Pneumothorax Rate

Postoperative Respiratory Failure Rate

Perioperative PE/DVT Rate

Postoperative Wound Dehiscence Rate

Unrecognized Abdominopelvic Accidental Puncture/Laceration Rate

SOURCE: Leapfrog Medical Group

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State focused on breaking news, public safety and trending news. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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