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Leapfrog Group rates patient safety in Kentucky hospitals; most get Cs but 16 standouts get As


By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

More Kentucky hospitals than the last time got a grade of A on a nonprofit group’s rating of patient safety in hospitals, but for the fifth grading period in a row, most of the 45 Kentucky hospitals got Cs.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare got its fifth-consecutive A since 2015, the first year it was graded.

“St. Elizabeth takes high quality care and safety very seriously and we work tirelessly to deliver upon this commitment,” said Garren Colvin, President and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare. “All three of our qualifying hospitals receiving an “A” from Leapfrog signifies the dedication of our associates and the esteem they hold themselves to every day. This honor recognizes the important procedures we have in place to keep our hospitals and patients safe, which is crucial now more than ever.”

The Leapfrog Group, based in Washington, D.C., rates more than 2,600 hospitals. Most of Kentucky’s 126 hospitals were not rated, but those that are have a majority of the hospital beds in the state.

The group does not grade small hospitals with “critical access” status because they don’t have to report quality measures to the federal government, nor does it grade specialty hospitals, government hospitals, or hospitals for which there aren’t enough publicly reported data. 

Leapfrog gave As to 16 Kentucky hospitals, or about 36 percent of those it graded, up from about 26% getting As on the last report. Based on the number of hospitals with As, Leapfrog ranked Kentucky 21st among the states, up from 33rd in the last report. It gave Bs to eight hospitals, Cs to 19, and Ds to two.

The twice-yearly grades are based on 27 performance measures of patient safety that indicate how well hospitals protect patients from errors, injuries, accidents and infections. The report uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Leapfrog’s own survey, and other supplemental data sources. Hospitals are only graded if they have submitted adequate data for evaluation, Leapfrog says.

The Leapfrog site offers details on each measures, under headings titled Infections, Problems with surgery, Practices to prevent errors, Safety problems, Doctors, Nurses and Hospital staff. It also includes an easy-to-read, color-coded scale that indicates how the hospital is performing.

The news release from Leapfrog notes that the data from the report does not yet reflect the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

High scorers

St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Edgewood has received As on every Leapfrog report card since spring 2014, the first year it was graded.

Other hospitals on the A list are: Baptist Health hospitals in La Grange, Lexington, Madisonville and Richmond; Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester; Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown; Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana; Mercy Health Lourdes in Paducah; Louisville’s Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Hospital, and Norton Women’s & Children Hospital; Saint Joseph-London; St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Ft. Thomas; and St. Elizabeth Hospital-Florence.

Baptist Health La Grange earned its first-ever A in the patient safety report after receiving only Cs since fall 2018.

“This rating is a testament to our staff who have been working so hard to provide the high quality, compassionate care for which Baptist Health is known – in the midst of a pandemic,” Clint Kaho, Baptist Health La Grange president, said in a news release. “It is especially meaningful for us to receive Leapfrog’s highest rating in patient safety when we are taking extraordinary measures to protect our patients, our staff and our communities during a pandemic and otherwise.”

Baptist Health Madisonville also moved up to an A after receiving only Cs since fall 2017. The last time it got an A was spring 2016.

“Baptist Health Madisonville aims for constant and consistent improvement in our processes, using best practices to deliver excellent care to our patients,” Teresa Dillingham, quality director, said in a news release. “This grade reflects the dedication of our staff to high standards of patient care.”

Baptist Health Richmond, Flaget Memorial Hospital, Harrison Memorial Hospital and Saint Joseph London all moved up from a B in the last report.

Shifts up and down

Baptist Health Corbin moved up to a B after getting three Cs in a row. Baptist Health Louisville moved up to a B after getting four Cs in a row. Baptist Health Paducah regained its B, after getting a C in the last grading period.

Deaconess Henderson Hospital moved up to a B after getting two Cs, an F and a D in the last four reports.

And after getting four As in a row, Georgetown Community Hospital moved down to a B.

Other hospitals on the B list are Owensboro Health, Glasgow’s T.J. Samson Community Hospital, and Bowling Green’s TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital.

Forty-two percent of the Kentucky hospitals got Cs, and 13 of the 19 hospitals on that list also got a C on the last report.

All three University of Louisville hospitals, which include recent additions Jewish Hospital and Mary and Elizabeth, got Cs on the report card.

U of L Hospital moved up to a C after getting nine Ds in a row. Mary and Elizabeth moved back up to a C after getting two Ds in a row. Jewish maintained its C after getting an F in the fall of 2019 and seven Ds prior to that.

U of L, which officially took ownership of the former KentuckyOne Health hospitals in November 2019, told Tessa Duvall of the Louisville Courier Journal that the data used for the Leapfrog report still reflects previous ownership.

“Since forming UofL Health in November of 2019, we have seen a consistent improvement in quality metrics,” the hospital said. “While the Leapfrog survey is not the scorecard we use to drive improvement throughout our organization, we will never be satisfied with anything other than providing top-quality patient care.”

Saint Joseph Hospital in Lexington moved down to a C after getting six Bs in a row. Saint Joseph East, also in Lexington, moved down to a C, after getting Bs on the last two reports. 

Whitesburg ARH Hospital down to a C, after getting six As, one B and one “no score” since fall 2016.

Frankfort Regional Medical Center moved back to a C, after getting a B in the last report. 

Hazard Regional Medical Center got its fourth D in a row and Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg went back to a D, after getting a C in the last report and four Ds prior to that.

Click here for a list of Kentucky hospitals and their Leapfrog safety grades.


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