Regional One Health is committed to providing a safe patient experience. The Leapfrog Group recently shared updated data on its online Hospital Safety Scorecard. Leapfrog assigns a letter grade (A to F) to hospitals calculated from a group of process- or structure-related and outcome-based measures. Betty Nelson, RN, Ph.D., Vice President of Quality at Regional One Health, explained the system’s reaction to the recent scores.
“We are disappointed that we did not score as high as we expected on the patient safety score released this week. First and foremost, this grade does not reflect who we are. Regional One Health is committed to providing a safe patient experience to every patient, every day, every time,” said Betty Nelson, Vice President of Quality, Regional One Health. “From leadership to our front line employees, we are actively working to improve patient safety in the organization. This grade is unacceptable to us and for our patients, and we look forward to the opportunity to improve our grade in the next reporting cycle.”
Primarily, scores dropped in the area of process measures. Factors for these drops included some process changes that were made that affected the system’s ability to evaluate the effectiveness of the changes prior to the close of the recent reporting period of 2013. Another factor was the interpretation of some questions in the survey, which resulted in overly conservative reporting. Upon review of the report, Regional One Health also discovered some missing data points which will be updated right away and reflected on the next report.
There are already improvements underway and forthcoming that are positively impacting patient safety and will be reflected in future survey results. For example, Regional One Health has installed a CPOE (computerized physician order entry) system; assigned Patient Safety Nurse Coordinators in high-risk areas to reduce adverse events related to staffing levels or competency issues; restructured the quality staff and reporting processes and have adopted a new quality and patient safety model; made improvements in several clinical indicators; and are developing a dashboard that will report to the community the system’s efforts to improve safety and quality.
“We provide safe and quality patient care, but there is always room for improvement. We have raised the bar internally to look at quality and patient safety through a sharper lens, and we’ll continue this work to improve our processes,” said Nelson.
Some of the positives from the Leapfrog report include Regional One Health’s strides in the fight against infant mortality through safety initiatives in the NICU. Regional Medical Center’s NICU is part of the Vermont Oxford Network, which is a collaborative of health care providers improving outcomes and increasing the quality, safety, and value of newborn care. The Vermont Oxford Network has recognized Regional Medical Center for positive outcomes in the NICU. Regional Medical Center also has a robust medication reconciliation program. Medication reconciliation is the process of avoiding adverse drug events by identifying the most accurate list of medications a patient is taking at the time of admission, transfer and discharge.
As with any report card, the results must be interpreted in context. Some of the data used to calculate hospital grades are almost 2 years old and do not reflect more recent performance improvements. When making health care decisions, patients should use all tools at their disposal, including various quality metrics and direct patient experiences, talking with friends and family, and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers. The latest Leapfrog rating system is just one of many tools a patient can use when making health care decisions.