New Orleans-area hospitals earned mostly average grades in a recent safety study by a national nonprofit that styles itself a go-to source of information for consumers seeking quality health care.
The Leapfrog Group gave a C to Ochsner Medical Center’s Jefferson Highway and Gretna locations, Touro Infirmary, Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center New Orleans.
Also rating a C were Lakeview Regional Medical Center and St. Tammany Parish Hospital, both in Covington.
Only one among 13 graded area hospitals — Slidell Memorial — notched an A.
Five others — East Jefferson General Hospital, Ochsner’s Kenner and Slidell locations, Tulane Lakeside Hospital in Metairie and West Jefferson Medical Center — scored in B territory.
The group assigned scores to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals, using a seven-member panel to select and weigh 28 publicly available measures of patient safety.
Hospitals self-reported some data, while other information came from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.
Among the indicators used was how often patients who underwent surgeries experienced complications afterward, up to and including death. Also examined was how often hospital staff administered antibiotics before surgeries and made other key safety preparations, whether patients developed infections, bed sores or other problems during their stay, and whether enough staff were trained.
The nonprofit issued performance rankings of “below average” to “above average” in each of the 28 categories.
Such hospital rankings, conducted annually by Leapfrog, the more popular U.S. News and World Report and others, are commonplace, though competing methodologies produce different results. Leapfrog hones in on safety, for example, but U.S. News grades hospitals by how well they treat various conditions and diseases. And ratings components often are weighted differently.
Excluded from Leapfrog’s analysis were critical-access hospitals, long-term care or rehabilitation hospitals and hospitals missing too much data.
Asked about their scores, area hospital officials generally acknowledged the need for improvement but also touted their performance under other measures.
“Ochsner Health System has a talented and dedicated network of physicians and caregivers whose primary focus is to deliver the highest quality of care to our patients,” said Joseph Bisordi, chief medical officer at Ochsner. “We have been consistently ranked by independent groups for exceptional quality and outcomes, and are always looking for opportunities to improve.”
Officials with LCMC Health, which manages Touro, University Medical Center and West Jefferson, said they are committed to providing patients with “a safe and healing environment.”
A spokeswoman for St. Tammany Parish Hospital noted its metrowide No. 1 rating in “overall medical care” from CareChex, a health care information services company that ranks by a different methodology. “We use the Leapfrog survey to grade ourselves — to challenge ourselves to strive for the ultimate safety goal of zero defects,” Melissa Hodgson said.
Dr. Mark Peters, chief executive officer at East Jefferson, said the growing popularity of such rankings is a positive thing for his industry.
“I think we are transitioning into a health care where patients are tied to quality,” he said. “For the patient, it’s a very good thing, because quality is being rewarded and poor quality is being penalized.”
Update, 11/4/15: A spokeswoman for Lakeview Regional Medical Center said “patient safety is a number one priority for our organization,” and that the group has increased its staff’s patient safety training. And East Jefferson touted its statewide No. 1 rating from CareChex.
Follow Jessica Williams on Twitter, @jwilliamsNOLA.