One area hospital’s safety grade has declined since the pandemic began, and another withheld quality of care information from the organization.
Leapfrog, a team of eight health care safety experts from across the country, measure safety and produce a “grade” for about 3,000 hospitals across the country. The group rates these hospitals twice a year, and hospitals are rated by providing the federal government with sufficient data on safety and supplemented by a survey.
Safety grade level plays a key role in patient safety. A-level hospitals mean they have the upper hand in preventing errors. Leapfrog divides the rating into two standards: the time it takes for a health care provider to develop a treatment plan for a patient or whether the patient is effective in the environment in which the treatment is being treated. The other is the case of a medical accident during treatment.
There are five major categories each hospital is graded on: infections, problems with surgery, safety problems, practices to prevent errors, and doctors, nurses and hospital staff.
In the fall of 2021, OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center received a grade of C, and Carle Foundation Hospital received a grade of A.
OSF Heart of Mary and Carle are the only two hospitals in Champaign County. The next-closest facility is OSF Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville, which improved its grade from a C to a B.
Sacred Heart scored better than the other two hospitals on safety problems, indicating a higher level of patients’ postoperative safety. OSF Heart of Mary had issues with bed sores and harmful events, which are described as “complications and potentially harmful events following a surgery, a procedure, or childbirth.” Carle scored below average on falls causing a broken hip and dangerous blood clots.
OSF Heart of Mary President Jared Rogers said these ratings are valuable, but limited because they are based on limited processes, steps, and situations.
“Patients should use all available tools and resources at their disposal, as well as talk to their physician, to identify which health care decisions are right for them,” Rogers said. “We strive daily to make sure our patients receive the right care at the right time, in the right place with the best outcomes.”
OSF Heart of Mary declines to C grade
Despite starting strong, the hospital safety grades for OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana have steadily declined in quality since the beginning of the pandemic, with infections, surgery problems and staff practices cited as some reasons for the decline to its current grade of C.
Rogers emphasized the responsibility of the hospital.
“One of the most important responsibilities of any hospital is protecting patients from harm,” Rogers said. “OSF HealthCare facilities support transparency about quality and safety information and are committed to finding ways to improve safety and quality of care.”
In terms of infection, a smaller number means a higher safety factor for a hospital. OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center scored 0.99 for MRSA infection, indicating it performed worse when compared to the average hospital’s score of 0.84.
One feature of Leapfrog is the ability to see what safer hospitals do for each standard being measured. For infection in the blood, for example, it provides a short summary of standards or practices based on other hospitals’ data.
“Hospital staff follows special guidelines when inserting central lines, often including a checklist of steps to follow. They properly maintain a patient’s central line to prevent infection,” the site said.
Regarding problems with surgery, OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center only outperformed the average hospital performance for sepsis infections after surgery
OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center has effective leadership to avoid mistakes, data indicates, but the hospital is below average in terms of the qualifications of nurses and special care for ICU patients.
Carle withholds quality of care data from the community
Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana also declined in quality throughout 2020, but improved during 2021 to become the only A-graded hospital in the area.
Carle Foundation Hospital refused to provide data on handwashing, and refused to provide existing measures about staff working together to prevent errors, effective leadership to prevent errors and whether it has enough qualified nurses. If data doesn’t exist, then it would be marked as “not available” instead of “refused to provide” in the Leapfrog data explorer.
“In searching for a hospital, patients should be most concerned when they noticed that a hospital has ‘Declined to Respond’”, the website’s how-to page said. “This means that the hospital is withholding information from its community on the care it provides.”
Carle also declined to provide any information at all to Leapfrog to measure against standards set by a team of national experts, which is a separate rating system from the safety grades. OSF did provide this information, which measures 39 standards in eight main categories. For example, the standard for handwashing for OSF Heart of Mary was rated as “limited achievement,” the lowest rating.
Carle did not respond to multiple requests for comment on why it declined to provide certain information to Leapfrog.
Kaleb Miller, spokesperson for Carle Health, said Carle is pleased to be the only A-graded hospital in Champaign-Urbana.
“This is a testament to our commitment to quality and safety for all patients,” Miller said. “While the COVID-19 pandemic has only further emphasized the importance of choosing the right healthcare for you and your family, Carle is proud to lead the way in patient safety.”
In terms of infection, a smaller number means a higher safety factor for a hospital. Carle scored 0.532 for MRSA infection, indicating it performed better than the average hospital’s score of 0.84.
Carle only had C. diff infection below the average hospital performance. Carle is also ranked below average for communication with doctors.