Half of the hospitals in the Butler and Warren County areas saw their safety ratings drop in the most recent round of scoring by Leapfrog, a nonprofit health care watchdog.
The ratings are released in the spring and fall of each year with hospitals nationwide receiving a letter grade between A and F for overall performance and for individual safety and performance measures based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms.
Retaining an A score were Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital and TriHealth’s Bethesda Butler Hospital in Hamilton.
McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford, which is managed and majority owned by TriHealth, also earned an “A” grade. It received no grade in the spring because it didn’t have enough publicly reported data at that time, but it earned an “A” last fall.
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Dropping in the grading system was Premier Health’s Atrium Medical Center in Middletown (from an A to a B), Kettering Health Network’s Fort Hamilton Hospital (from an A to a C) and UC Health’s West Chester Hospital (from a B to a C).
Hospital officials emphasized that that Leapfrog letter grades are simplified and just one way for a consumer evaluate a hospital and should be considered in context.
“The score is a snapshot in time with data from 2015 to 2017,” said Brenda Kuhn, chief quality officer, Kettering Health Network. “The data include both process measures as well as outcomes measures. We are constantly monitoring safety metrics and when we identify opportunities for improvement, we immediately incorporate those metrics into our performance improvement process and our annual quality and patient safety goals.”
Each publicly reported scorecard, such as Leapfrog and IBM Watson Analytics, has different metrics and different timeframes used to evaluate performance of healthcare organizations, she said. When publicly reported data is available, Kettering Health takes the opportunity to review the report to ensure that its current priorities address the challenges from the time period that particular scorecard represents, Kuhn said.
“If consumers are looking for real-time data to make a decision about which hospital to go to or which specialist to see, we highly recommend they check with their primary care physician,” she said.
She said Fort Hamilton Hospital is “committed to providing exceptional care to each patient and family.”
Ben Sutherly, spokesman for Premier Health, said in a statement that quality is at the core of the health system and Atrium Medical Center.
“Results can vary from one survey to the next and from one year to the next, and we welcome that third-party accountability,” he said. “What doesn’t change is our focus on ensuring that we deliver the best possible care and experience for our patients.”
No area hospital received a D or an F this fall.
The fall 2018 Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades assessed more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide using 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data.
“This ranking provides an important resource for patients, and a benchmark for hospitals, to determine how care at one hospital compares to others in a region,” according to Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “Hospitals that earn an A Hospital Safety Grade deserve to be recognized for their efforts in preventing medical harm and errors.”
In Ohio, 42.7 percent of hospitals had an A rating, essentially unchanged from the 42.5 percent during the spring grading period.
Ohio is ranked 8th among states with the most A rated hospitals. New Jersey had the most A rated hospitals — 56.7 percent — while there were no A rated hospitals in Washington D.C., Delaware and North Dakota.
New this year to the grading system is a measure for prevention and identification of medication errors, which Leapfrog said was added because medication errors are the most common hospital error.
Leapfrog does not grade VA hospitals, specialty hospitals or children’s hospitals. As a result, several local hospitals were not included in its rankings.
The Leapfrog report and similar evaluations can be helpful for patients, said John Palmer, director of public and media relations for the Ohio Hospital Association. But he said there are numerous similar studies provided by a variety of organizations each year, so it’s important for consumers to review more than one site before making health care decisions.
“Each of them tell a different story and each of them are done at a particular time,” Palmer said of the various reports produced that provide information about hospitals.
The Leapfrog website notes choosing a hospital is a matter of preference but says the grades are one tool to help patients better understand which facilities do a better job of preventing errors.
“As they’re asking health care decisions, its important to look at all sources to be able to make a well-rounded choice,” Palmer said.
Staff writers Matt Sanctis and Kaitlin Schroeder contributed to this report.
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HOSPITAL SAFETY GRADES
Here are the safety grades area hospitals received:
Atrium Medical Center: B (down from A)
Bethesda Butler Hospital: A (same)
Fort Hamilton Hospital: C (down from A)
McCullough-Hyde Memorial-TriHealth Hospital: A (same as last rating)
Mercy Health-Fairfield Hospital: A (same)
West Chester Hospital: C (down from B)
Bethesda North Hospital: A (same as spring)
The Christ Hospital: A (same as spring)
Good Samaritan Hospital of Cincinnati: A (same)
Mercy Health - Anderson Hospital: C (dropped from A)
Mercy Health - West Hospital: B (dropped from A)
UC Health - University of Cincinnati Medical Center: C (same)