Nationally, Maryland-based hospitals rank poorly in avoiding clinical errors and mishaps that lead to outcomes such as injuries and infections. This finding is based on a study conducted by Leapfrog, a group known as a leader in advocacy for hospital transparency. The non-profit “watchdog” organization’s findings were met with some conflicting opinions by hospital administrators.
David Simon, of the Maryland Hospital Association, explained that everyone wants to see improvements in quality and that the data is influenced “by how it is measured”. Hospital performance in terms of safety was summed up in letter grades. Of Maryland’s 44 hospitals, only one received an A rating, Howard County General Hospital, and another seven were rated as a B. The report assigned 8 facilities a D rating and Bon Secours Hospital in West Baltimore was the recipient of the lone F.
Hospital-based mistakes such as infections are among the most common causes of death in the U.S. Leapfrog CEO Leah Binder says that the residents of Maryland are entitled to see how hospitals in the state are ranked. This was the first time that Leapfrog included Maryland in their study. The Maryland Hospital Association challenged these finding by indicating that between 2013 and 2016 procedural complications fell 43% and readmissions dropped 6% in their state’s facilities. The Leapfrog data explores 27 different aspects of quality in their evaluation. They say that the data is assessed and reviewed by a group of experts and that their work allows patients to choose hospitals based on the results.
Overall, Maryland hospital facilities ranked 48th in the country. Pat Ercolano, a vice-president with the University of Maryland system, thinks the results will gain attention from facility administrators, who may try to make improvements. The University of Maryland Hospital serves a largely urban population that causes the facility to encounter more challenges such as bullet wounds and transplants, which have higher likelihoods of infection. Officials with MedStar Health have suggested that the reports may not be based on the most recent data. MedStar apparently chooses not to take part in the survey, thus all data in the report regarding their facility is obtained from external sources. A MedStar spokesman stated that their Leapfrog safety grades do not correspond to the ongoing advancements that they have seen.
Judith Carmichael, who manages Marketing & Public Relations for Bon Secours Health, responded to the Leapfrog findings by saying that they do not believe the grading is not an accurate assessment of the “level of care and essential role we play in the community”. She further explained that the way the data is presented for comparative reporting places smaller facilities at a disadvantage and hinders their grades. An example provided involved the occurrences of rare and catastrophic events; that one such instance that occurs among a total of 200 patients is much more dramatic than one occurrence among a pool of 2,000 patients. Carmichael says that Ben Secours, which only has 69 acute care beds, is focused on overall patient safety.
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