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Leapfrog safety scores: 22 NJ hospitals get 'A' grades, while one flunks

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University Hospital in Newark was given an “F” grade for its safety conditions – the lowest possible grade – in The Leapfrog Group’s biannual hospital safety ratings. It is the first time in three years a New Jersey hospital has received an “F” grade.

In all, 22 hospitals earned “A” grades, down from 27 a year ago, with some significant downgrades. On the upside, four were upgraded from a “B” to an “A” and none received “D” grades for the first time in three years.

The Leapfrog ratings are based on on-site visits and outcomes data that are voluntarily provided by the hospitals themselves. The company said its standards are updated annually to account for the latest science and designed to drive better patient outcomes.

The four hospitals receiving upgrades from “B” to “A” are Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune, Capital Health Medical Center in Pennington, Overlook Medical Center in Summit and the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro.

CarePoint Health – Bayonne Medical Center in Jersey City and Virtua Memorial Hospital in Mount Holly were both downgraded to “C” grades after each received an “B” in the fall. Pascack Valley Medical Center and Memorial Hospital of Salem County also were downgraded from “B” to “C” grades.

The entire list can be found here.

“Our efforts have always been grounded in quality and safety, and our concentration over the past two years to become a High Reliability Organization has enhanced our focus even further,” said Dr. Ken Sable, president of Jersey Shore University Medical Center, in an interview.

“Creating an environment of mindfulness, changing behaviors into habits, and empowering our team members to have a preoccupation with failure has fostered a relentless focus on quality,” Sable added. “Receiving an ‘A’ is a testament to the outstanding care our team delivers, and sets the bar for our continued emphasis on patient safety and transparency.”

Alan Lieber, Overlook Medical Center president, said in an email, “This accomplishment is due to efforts by our team that include intensive hand-hygiene compliance to reduce hospital-acquired infections, increased focus on patient safety indicators, and increased bedside scanning rates to confirm patients receive their appropriate medication. We look to build on this success and continue to provide the care and experience our patients expect and deserve.”

Meanwhile, Virtua Memorial pinpointed its lower score as “the result of an increased number of central line and catheter-related urinary tract infections in the beginning of 2017," according to a prepared statement.

“Since that time, our clinical teams have worked diligently to correct the issues and have implemented changes,” the statement continued. “Over the last year, those changes have resulted in considerable improvement. We anticipate that Virtua Memorial’s October score will improve based on the efforts by our clinical team." 

Virtua Voorhees Hospital and Virtua Marlton Hospital did get “A” safety grades. 

Leapfrog judged University Hospital in 30 different categories based on data taken from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as on-site visits. The hospital, Leapfrog said, scored poorly compared to the national average in such categories such as doctor and nurse communication, staff responsiveness and discharge information.

In response to having received a failing grade, a spokesperson for University Hospital suggested Leapfrog used outdated data.

“Leapfrog uses a variety of factors when developing its grade, and the data can go back as far as 2014,” said the spokesperson in an email. “What we know by looking at our own data is that if Leapfrog used real-time or 2017 data alone, our grade would be in alignment with our national peers. But we are not satisfied with being average, either.

“We have an aggressive plan in place to get to an ‘A’ grade, and we remain focused on providing high quality care to all of our patients.”

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio


Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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