Most Kentucky hospitals in national patient-safety ratings got ‘C’ grades again; state is 35th in share of hospitals with ‘A’ ratings

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 in the latest report.

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 rated 62 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 10 Kentucky hospitals; Kentucky’s percentage of A grades, 16.4%, ranked it 35th among states. That was up two slots from the last report, when it ranked 37th. Leapfrog gave Bs to 19 Kentucky hospitals, Cs to 27 and Ds to 5.

The grades are based on more than 30 measures that indicate how well hospitals protect patients from preventable errors, injuries, accidents and infections.

The spring 2024 report showed 92% of U.S. hospitals have seen improvements in at least one of three infections associated with hospitals. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) decreased by 30%, central line-associated bloodstream infections decreased by 34% and catheter-associated urinary tract infections decreased by 30%. This good news comes after a six-year high for those infections was reported in the fall 2022 report.

“While today’s results are promising, patient safety remains a crisis-level hazard in health care. Some hospitals are much better than others at protecting patients from harm, and that’s why we make the Hospital Safety Grade available to the public and why we encourage all hospitals to focus more attention on safety,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, said in a news release.

She added, “According to a summary of peer-reviewed research published in British Medical Journal, an estimated 250,000 people a year die of preventable errors and infections in hospitals, which makes patient safety problems the third leading cause of death in the United States.”

The spring 2024 report also showed some improvements on patient experience measures compared to fall 2023. The release notes that these measures worsened during the pandemic and have still not returned to pre-pandemic levels. These measures look at things that have a direct impact on patient safety outcomes, including nurse communication, doctor communication, hospital staff responsiveness, communication about medicine and discharge information.

“Patient experience is very difficult to influence without delivering better care,” Binder said, “so these findings are encouraging.”

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 La Grange, Baptist Health Lexington, Deaconess Henderson Hospital, Georgetown Community Hospital, Meadowview Regional Medical Center in Maysville, the Medical Center at Bowling Green, Saint Joseph-London, St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Edgewood, T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow, and TriStar Greenview Regional Hospital in Bowling Green.

Georgetown Community Hospital received an A after getting six consecutive Cs.

Baptist Health Lexington has received an A grade for 13 consecutive grading periods. Deaconess Henderson moved up from a B grade in the fall 2023 report. The rest in this top group also received As in the fall.

Shifts up and down

Four Kentucky hospitals moved down to a B after getting an A on the last report, including Norton Audubon Hospital, Norton Brownsboro Hospital, Norton Hospital and Norton Women’s & Children, all in Louisville.

Five Kentucky hospitals moved up to a B after getting a C on the last report, including Baptist Health Deaconess Madisonville, Baptist Health Richmond, Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana, Middlesboro ARH Hospital and the University of Kentucky Albert B. Chandler Hospital.

Other hospitals with B grades are Baptist Health Louisville, Baptist Health Paducah, Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Owensboro Health Muhlenberg Community Hospital in Greenville, Saint Joseph East in Lexington, St. Elizabeth HealthcareFort Thomas, St. Elizabeth Healthcare-Florence, U of L Health Shelbyville Hospital, UK HealthCare Good Samaritan Hospital and Blanchfield Army Community Hospital in Fort Campbell.

Five Kentucky hospitals moved up from a D to a C: Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center, Jackson Purchase Medical Center in Mayfield, Jewish Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky River Medical Center in Jackson and UofL-Sts. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital.

Three hospitals moved down from a B to a C: Kings Daughters Medical Center in Ashland, Monroe County Medical Center in Tompkinsville and Whitesburg ARH Hospital.

The remaining 19 hospitals with a C all got Cs on the last report card too.

Taylor Regional Hospital in Campbellsville moved down from a C to a D and Jennie Stuart Health in Hopkinsville moved up to a D after being the only hospital in the fall 2023 report to get an F.

Other hospitals with D grades are Highlands ARH Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg, Murray-Calloway County Hospital and Pikeville Medical Center.

No Kentucky hospitals got an F on this report.

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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