61 larger Ky. hospitals get mostly Cs in national patient-safety ratings, and one gets an F; raters warn infection rates remain high

By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

Most of the Kentucky hospitals graded on a nonprofit group’s twice-a-year report card for patient safety again got a C.

The Leapfrog Group, based in Washington, D.C., rates nearly 3,000 general acute-care hospitals based on how well they protect patients. Most of Kentucky’s 126 hospitals are relatively small, so they are not rated by Leapfrog; it rates 61 Kentucky hospitals.

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 that don’t have enough publicly reported data.

Leapfrog gave A ratings to four Kentucky hospitals; Kentucky’s percentage of A grades, 6.6%, ranked it 46th among states. That was down 10 slots from the last report, when it ranked 36th. Leapfrog gave Bs to 15 Kentucky hospitals, Cs to 31, Ds to 10 and an F to one, in Hazard.

The grades are based on more than 30 measures that indicate how well hospitals protect patients from preventable errors, injuries, accidents and infections, and whether hospitals have systems in place to prevent them.

A Leapfrog press release draws attention to a significant national increase in healthcare-associated infections, reporting that the average risk of three HAIs – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABSI) and catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) – remain high after spiking to a five-year high in hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comparing infection data from late 2021 and 2022 to the safety grades reported in 2021, which covered the period immediately before the pandemic, Leapfrog’s analysis found that CLABSI increased 60%, MRSA infections increased 37%, and CAUTI rose 19%.

“The dramatic spike in HAIs reported in this Safety Grade cycle should stop hospitals in their track. Infections like these can be life or death for some patients,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said in the release. “We recognize the tremendous strain the pandemic put on hospitals and their workforce, but alarming findings like these indicate hospitals must recommit to patient safety and build more resilience.”

The Leapfrog site offers details on the measures for each hospital under the heading Infections. It also provides detailed information under headings titled Problems with Surgery, Practices to Prevent Errors, Safety Problems, and Doctors, Nurses and Hospital Staff. The information is provided in an easy-to-read, color-coded scale that indicates how the hospital is performing.

The report uses data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Leapfrog’s own survey and other supplemental data sources. Leapfrog says hospitals are only graded if they have submitted adequate data for evaluation.
Top Scores

Hospitals getting As were Baptist Health Lexington, Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, The Medical Center at Bowling Green, and St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Ft. Thomas.

The Bowling Green hospital moved up to an A after getting Cs on the last 14 reports.

Baptist Health Lexington has received an A grade for 11 consecutive grading periods. Clark Regional maintained its A for two consecutive grading periods and St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Ft. Thomas has maintained its grade for three reporting periods.

Shifts up and down

Seven Kentucky hospitals moved down to a B after getting an A on the last report, including Advent Health Manchester, Deaconess Henderson Hospital and Spring View Hospital in Lebanon.

In addition, Louisville’s Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Hospital, and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital all moved down to a B, after getting As for seven straight periods.

Three hospitals moved up from a C to a to a B: King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Florence and Three Rivers Medical Center in Louisa.

Other hospitals with B grades are Baptist Health Louisville, Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Maysville, Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital in Greenville, St.Elizabeth Healthcare-Edgewood and U of L Health Shelbyville Hospital.

Three hospitals moved up from a D to a C: Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown, Jackson Purchase Medical Center in Mayfield and Taylor Regional Hospital in Campbellsville.

Baptist Health Richmond moved down to a C after receiving five straight As.

Eleven hospitals moved down from a B to a C:Bap tist Health Corbin, Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville, Ephraim McDowell Regional Medical Center in Danville, Middlesboro ARH Hospital, Leitchfield’s Owensboro Health Twin Lakes Medical Center, Lexington’s Saint Joseph East and Saint Joseph Hospital, Bowling Green’s TriStar Greenview Regional HospitalUniversity of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital, UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital, and University of Louisville Hospital.

The remaining 15 hospitals with a C list all got Cs on the last report card too.

Two Kentucky hospitals moved down from C to a D. Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson got a D after receiving Cs on the last three reports, and Tug Valley ARH Regional Medical Center in South Williamson got a D after receiving four Cs and one B in the last five reports.

Other hospitals with D grades are Murray-Calloway County Hospital, Pikeville Medical Center, Saint Joseph Mount Sterling, St. Claire Regional Medical Center and UofL Health-Mary & Elizabeth Hospital.

The only hospital that got an F was Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, down from a D on the last report. The last time a Kentucky hospital got an F on the Leapfrog report was in the fall of 2019, when Jewish Hospital received one. It got a C on this report card.

Click here for a list of frequently asked questions about the survey. Click here to see if your hospital was graded.

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