How Well Do NJ Hospitals Make the Grade for Safety?
A new report card shows most hospitals in New Jersey earning As and Bs, and those lagging reporting new safety measures since data was gathered
By Beth Fitzgerald, NJ Spotlight.com
Click here to view an interactive map of the state's hospitals and safety ratings
How safe are New Jersey hospitals? A new report card shows most hospitals earning As and Bs -- with the state overall ranking 12th in the nation for safety, according to new hospital performance data.
The letters grades were the first given by the Leapfrog Group, a national organization dedicated to healthcare quality, to rate safety issues like hospital infections, falls and surgical errors. Of the 73 hospitals rated in New Jersey, 23 received an A, and 33 were rated B. The 17 NJ hospitals earning Cs or lower have reported making progress on safety since the report’s data was gathered.
Leapfrog has been studying and reporting on hospital safety for more than a decade, and it took their safety experts nearly a year to figure out how to aggregate publicly reported data on 26 hospital safety indicators and turn that into a letter grade, said David Knowlton, chairman of the Leapfrog patient safety committee and president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.
“The odds of the doctor doing harm to you is so much less than the hospital doing harm to you, because you are in the hospital much longer than you are in the doctor’s direct care,” Knowlton said. “The doctor does a procedure on you that might take two or three hours, and you’re in the hospital for three or four days. When we looked into medical errors, it was the systems of care that caused those errors. It was rarely some doctor who didn’t do a good job of replacing your hip: It was the systems that the hospital had in place.”
State Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said the Leapfrog report “is another tool consumers can include in their discussions with healthcare professionals.”
Since 2004, when her department issued its first Hospital Performance Report, “we have seen steady improvement in the quality of care provided to New Jersey residents,” O’Dowd said. The state report provides much of the patient safety data aggregated by Leapfrog.
“We know that transparency raises the bar on performance,” O’Dowd said. “The hospital safety scores also serve as a benchmark for hospitals to assess their performance in patient safety and examine ways to improve.”