Illinois ranks 27th in the nation for its percentage of hospitals with high safety ratings, with a hospital in Waukegan earning an F and one of Chicago’s most prestigious institutions, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, earning a C, according to new assessments.
Overall, about 29% of Illinois hospitals earned A grades, about the same percentage as the last time the ratings were released in the fall by the nonprofit group Leapfrog, which issues grades twice a year. That’s down from a year ago, however, when Leapfrog ranked Illinois 17th in the nation for hospital safety, with 35% of Illinois hospitals earning A grades.
Leapfrog ratings are based on more than 30 federal patient safety measures, a Leapfrog survey and other sources. Measures include falls and trauma, hand hygiene, and mortality rates among surgical patients with serious and treatable illnesses. Hospitals that earn high ratings often tout those ratings in their advertising, hoping to attract more patients and gain a competitive advantage over other hospitals.
One Illinois hospital, Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan, earned an F — a rating the hospital disagrees with. The hospital has had no patients with hospital-acquired infections in nine months, according to a hospital statement. Some of the data on which the memo is based is more than two years old, and the hospital is not participating in Leapfrog’s investigation, the statement said.
“Leapfrog’s assessment does not reflect the dedication of our doctors, nurses and staff,” the statement said. “We are continuously focused on safety, quality and the experience of our patients as part of our overall efforts to improve clinical performance.”
Five Chicago-area hospitals earned Ds, including Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago, Roseland Community Hospital in Chicago, and Community First Medical Center in Chicago.
Advocate said in a statement Monday, “We strongly believe that meaningful quality and safety data should be transparent to the public. However, accurately measuring this data can be challenging, and some organizations use limited methodologies that don’t always reflect quality of care or the various factors that contribute to patient outcomes.
Attempts to reach Roseland and Community First for comment were not immediately successful Monday.
Even some of the region’s biggest hospitals got mediocre ratings. Northwestern Memorial and Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood both earned Cs.
Northwestern’s rating is down from a B a year ago, and is somewhat surprising given that a separate rating from US News & World Report named Northwestern Memorial the best hospital in Illinois for 10 years. consecutive, and the federal government gave the hospital 5 out of 5 stars for quality. A number of organizations assess hospitals each year, using different methodologies.
Northwestern said in a statement Monday, “We are committed to providing high-quality, safe, and patient-centered care…We appreciate Leapfrog’s ongoing efforts to improve the usefulness and accessibility of information for consumers. “.
The report, however, also contained some positives. The University of Chicago Medical Center earned its 21st consecutive A grade.
“There is nothing more important than safety,” said Dr. Stephen Weber, medical director and executive vice president at the University of Chicago Medicine. Some patients and providers “take it for granted that American health care is safe, and the fact is, it can always be safer.” Not all hospitals are equally safe for patients, he said.
University of Chicago Medical Center executives routinely review hundreds of data streams — such as how long patients stayed in the hospital, hand sanitizers among staff and the proportion of patients who met with managers cases – to try to understand what can be improved, he says.
Efforts to bolster safety also paid off in the latest assessments of St. Bernard’s Hospital and Health Care Center in Englewood. In the fall, South Side Hospital was the only one in the state to get an F grade. This time around, it got a C.
“We looked at every element of the Leapfrog survey and scoring methodology, then we were able to pinpoint areas where we could make immediate improvements,” said Michael Richardson, head of clinical quality and safety of patients at St. Bernard.
For example, it has now been more than a year since any St. Bernard patient had a central line bloodstream infection or a urinary catheter infection, he said.
The hospital has also invested in an electronic hand hygiene system to help monitor how often employees sanitize their hands at hospital dispensers. And the hospital has adopted a process called “Just Culture,” which aims to create an environment where individuals are encouraged to report mistakes so that systemic issues can be addressed.
St. Bernard is happy to no longer have an F grade but will continue to work to improve, Richardson said.
“It was a tough badge to wear. With the employees, it was a little daunting,” Richardson said of the previous F grade. “It will be a real morale booster inside the hospital. , but we accept that there are a lot of A-level hospitals, and that’s where we want to be.”