Local hospitals get low patient safety scores

Only one area hospital received a grade higher than a C on a recent national report card that evaluated patient safety — rankings that administrators say could be flawed because they were based on outdated information, some of which was four years old.

Since that time, administrators said their hospitals have made major improvements in patient safeguards.

Glendale Memorial was the only area hospital to get a B in the report by the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed nonprofit group that focuses on quality healthcare.

The other hospitals — Glendale Adventist Medical Center and Verdugo Hills Hospital, both in Glendale, and Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank — were each given a C.

Patricia Aidem, a spokeswoman for Providence St. Joseph, said that while the hospital appreciates “any kind of transparency,” she pointed out that some of the data used in Leapfrog's report date back to 2008, and since then, the hospital has started many safety practices, such as making sure a patient's bed has easy access to trays and buzzers to contact the nursing station.

She also said that because Providence St. Joseph is part of a network of hospitals in the Los Angeles area, all of the healthcare facilities constantly share information with each other to make sure patient safety is paramount.

One of the areas where Providence St. Joseph fell short was its number of deaths from serious treatable complications after surgery.

William Scott, the hospital's chief medical officer, said Providence St. Joseph has made many strides to improve patient safety during the past four years.

“The data over 2009, '10, '11 and '12 to date have improved greatly year after year after year,” he said in a statement. “We've had dramatic improvement for mortality, morbidity, compliance and, for Medicare patients, perception of care and patient satisfaction.”

Kevin Roberts, president and chief executive of Glendale Adventist Medical Center, agreed that any evaluation of his hospital's safety performance is appreciated, but he was also concerned about how far back the report went.

“We don't argue with the techniques of measurement,” Roberts said. “We just want to make sure it's as current as possible.”

He added that Glendale Adventist is focused on improving safety performance and has put many practices in place to ensure that the patient's experience at the hospital is as pleasant and safe as possible.

The hospital is creating a new position — vice president of medical affairs — a post that will be held by a physician who will be dedicated to safety practices.

One area where Glendale Adventist fell short was the number of patients who had breathing failure after surgery. Roberts, who has held the top job at the hospital for only about six months, said the data for that particular measurement go back to 2008 and he didn't have enough information to comment.

Verdugo Hills Hospital said in a statement regarding the C grade that it declined to participate in the voluntary Leapfrog study, which likely affected its standing.

But Leah Binder, president and chief executive of Leapfrog, said there were 146 hospitals that didn't respond but that also received an A, and there were hundreds of non-respondent hospitals that got a B.

If a hospital didn't participate, Leapfrog used publicly accessible resources to calculate their grade, Binder added.

Like the other two hospitals, Verdugo Hills officials pointed out that Leapfrog used older information in its report. For example, Leapfrog gave Verdugo Hills a grade of 79.2% out of 100% for removal of a urinary catheter on post-operative day, but hospitalcompare.hhs.gov — operated by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services — currently gives the hospital 81%.

Glendale Memorial did participate in the report, said Claire Hanks, vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive at the hospital.

“We see that it has value out there, and participating demonstrates our commitment to patient care and safety,” she said.

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