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Make the grade


Metro hospitals have room for improvement in patient safety, according to a nonprofit group advocating health care transparency.

Sarah Clough Chambers July 3rd, 2012

The Hippocratic Oath dictates that medical professionals first do no harm, but to err is human. Mitigating errors, subsequently, might be the closest to divine that hospitals are going to get.

baptist+hospital+vert+low923scIntegris Baptist in OKC was among the hospitals ranked by the Leapfrog Group for patient safety. - Credit: Shannon Cornman

Organizations that track the health care industry, such as The Leapfrog Group, hope to help with that. The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, which works to promote hospital safety and transparency, recently released a hospital-safety grading system determined by such factors as patient injuries, medication errors and infections. No hospital in the Oklahoma City metro scored an A, although facilities in three Oklahoma towns — Ponca City, Henryetta and Claremore — did get A’s.

Overall, Oklahoma ranked 47th among U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

"The Leapfrog Group's goal is to give patients the vital information they need and deserve before even entering a hospital," said Leah Binder, the group’s president and CEO.

"We hope people will use this score to talk with their doctor, make informed decisions about where to seek care, and take the right precautions during a hospital stay."

Some health officials caution that data can be difficult to interpret. According to the state Department of Health, health care outcomes are tied to many things, including how healthy people are before they get to the hospital, what treatment they received, and the quality of their care.  

Glenn H. Lytle, medical director for the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality, said he was not familiar enough with Leapfrog to comment on its methods, but he said that organization and OFMQ are working toward the same end.  

“Anything that helps to promote quality and transparency in health care is a good thing and generally supported by OFMQ,” he said.

Most of the metro hospitals included in the Leapfrog report stressed their commitment to patient safety. Oklahoma Hospital Association spokeswoman Susie Wallace said Leapfrog’s grades are, at best, one tool in a box.

“Patients and families should consider the Leapfrog report as just one of numerous hospital quality reports that are publicly available,” she said.

Wallace said hospital statistics are almost inherently opaque, depending upon a number of variables: What was measured, how the data is weighted, and how vigilant the hospitals are in reporting. Outcomes also are impacted by what treatments are available and how often certain procedures are performed at any given hospital.

As a result, different surveys offer different interpretations on a hospital’s performance. The OHA stressed that Leapfrog’s study methodology could be flawed and does not accurately portray a picture of the safety efforts made by hospitals.

Hospital safety scores for OKC hospitals
Community Hospital — C
Deaconess Hospital — C
Integris Baptist Medical Center — B
Integris Southwest Medical Center — C
Lakeside Women's Hospital — C
Mercy Health Center — B
OU Medical Center — score pending
St. Anthony Hospital — B

* source: The Leapfrog Group

 
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