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Local hospitals receive grades from watchdog group Leapfrog

Glendale Adventist Medical Center earned an A grade from Leapfrog Group, a hospital watchdog group for patient safety.

Glendale Adventist Medical Center earned an A grade from Leapfrog Group, a hospital watchdog group for patient safety.

(Roger Wilson / Staff Photographer)
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Glendale Adventist Medical Center earned an A grade from a hospital watchdog group for patient safety while three other local hospitals collectively earned a B and two Cs.

Leapfrog Group, which releases semi-annual report cards based on criteria such as reducing infections and patient falls, announced last week Glendale Adventist earned its second A of 2015.

Dignity Health Glendale Memorial and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital were both given Cs.

Glendale Adventist was earning Cs for the past several years until it implemented new round-the-clock practices, said Dr. Arby Nahapetian, chief medical officer of Adventist Health’s Southern California Region.

For example, nurses are sent to patients rooms once an hour to check on them and prevent falls, he said.

“A fair bit of work has gone into harm reduction and risk prevention operations,” Nahapetian said. “You know, it’s easy to do something once well, it’s a completely different task and skill set to do it well every single time.”

He said more physicians were brought on board to maintain a 24-hour presence in the intensive care unit as well.

Leapfrog’s scoring system is based on 26 individually-rated categories. Glendale Adventist received high marks for training to improve safety and effective leadership to prevent errors.

But that system doesn’t paint a full picture, according to Dignity Health Memorial Glendale officials.

Leapfrog’s approach oversimplifies the complex task of measuring and improving quality, said the hospital’s Chief Nurse Executive, Liza Abcede, who also touted a series of outside recognition including a 2015 Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award.

“The 26 measures identified by the Leapfrog Group for improving quality and patient safety may help improve patient safety outcomes, but they are neither the best nor the only indicators of an institution’s quality,” she said.

Dignity Health Glendale Memorial received high marks in the infection and safety problems categories, including cutting down on infection during intensive care unit stays and patient falls. The hospital, however, received low ratings because it didn’t have enough qualified nurses.

Abcede said the hospital would continue to provide data to promote transparency.

Leapfrog obtains its data from agencies such as Medicare, but some of it could be several years old, said Erica Mobley, Leapfrog’s director of communications.

For the first time since 2012, USC Verdugo Hills was given a score. It was off Leapfrog’s radar because the medical center didn’t provide data for enough categories until recently.

USC Verdugo Hills fared well in preventing patient falls, but low marks for preventing dangerous bed sores, according to Leapfrog.

A statement from the hospital stated it has implemented efforts to reduce hospital-acquired infection rates and those results will be reflected on a future report card.

“We believe future scores that rely on current data will present a more accurate picture of our hospital’s quality and performance,” the statement read.

In Burbank, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center earned its second B of the year after climbing up from a C in fall 2014.

Dr. Nicholas Testa, the hospital’s chief medical officer, said his staff placed an emphasis on working to reduce “hospital acquired conditions.”

One practice relying less a “central line” to access an ill patient’s vein, a process that results in a high risk for infection, Testa said. Now the medical staff relies on ultrasounds or other methods.

The Burbank hospital received high ratings for following correct post-surgery steps, but fell short in the category of reducing infections in the blood during intensive care unit stays.

He said Providence St. Joseph’s takes the Leapfrog scores very seriously.

“It engages the public in a conversation and for us to have safe hospitals, we have to have the public engaged in discourses like this so they understand where the opportunities are and what hospitals are doing to try to improve,” Testa said.

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Arin Mikailian, arin.mikailian@latimes.com

Twitter: @ArinMikailian


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