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4.29.2014
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News Room: BUSINESS COURIER: How 3 Cincinnati-area hospitals perfected patient safety scores

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Business Courier

By: Barrett J. Brunsman

St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s three hospitals in Northern Kentucky today received the highest patient safety scores possible in the latest Leapfrog Hospital Survey, a reflection of improvements made since their scores dipped last fall.

St. Elizabeth Hospital in Florence made the biggest leap, rising from a C in October to an A this time. The St. E hospitals in Edgewood and Fort Thomas saw their scores rise from B to A. The three hospitals had all scored an A in the Leapfrog survey results released last spring.

The grades bestowed by the Leapfrog Group are intended to show how “hospitals are making headway in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt patients,” according to the advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Bob Prichard, senior vice president and chief medical officer of St. Elizabeth, said implementation of an electronic medical records system was a factor in the improved scores for the Northern Kentucky health system. Leapfrog takes into consideration such records, which are also known as “computer physician order entry,” because they can reduce medication errors and lengths of stay.

Before electronic medical records, doctors would write orders on medical charts by hand. Now, they literally type into a computer, which eliminates “somebody trying to interpret my handwriting,” Prichard said.

St. Elizabeth also changed a policy to reduce catheter urinary tract infections contracted in the intensive care unit, which was a new measure the last time Leapfrog conducted the survey and one reason for the dip in the previous scores of the three hospitals. Now, the medical staff at each hospital can disconnect catheters when necessary without waiting for a doctor’s order, Prichard said.

“We don’t try to get these awards, but it’s good to use these surveys as measures to see what you need to do to improve to provide the safety and care that our patients need and expect,” Prichard said. “We’ve got a great staff and physicians who believe in patient care.”

St. Elizabeth CEO John Dubis noted that missing the mark on just a few of the areas scored by Leapfrog can affect scores but the health system was determined to bring its marks back up after the slip from perfection.

“Our culture here is one of continuous quality improvement,” Dubis said. “It’s something we do day in and out every year.”

Other hospitals in Greater Cincinnati that got an A include the Christ Hospital in Mount Auburn, Mercy Health’s Anderson Hospital and the Atrium Medical Center in the Warren County city of Franklin.

Among local hospitals that got higher scores this time was Fort Hamilton Hospital, which improved to a B from a C.

Dropping from an A to a B were Mercy Health’s Fairfield Hospital and West Chester Hospital, which is affiliated with UC Health.

Dropping from a B to a C were TriHealth’s Good Samaritan Hospital in University Heights and Dearborn County Hospital in Lawrenceburg.

Retaining C scores were Mercy Health’s Jewish Hospital in Kenwood; the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, which is part of UC Health; TriHealth’s Bethesda North Hospital in Montgomery; McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford and Clinton Memorial Hospital in Wilmington.

Mercy Health’s Clermont Hospital wasn’t graded because its patient volume didn’t meet the minimum sample size.

In addition to the survey, the score representing “a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors” is based on measures the Leapfrog Group culls from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.


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