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Hospital safety survey: Tulare Regional flunks; Clovis, Kaiser, Kaweah get top grade

Tulare Regional Medical Center flunked the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program for second time this year.
Tulare Regional Medical Center flunked the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program for second time this year. Fresno Bee file photo

Three hospitals in the central San Joaquin Valley got a top grade for patient safety in a nationwide report card released this week, but one hospital – Tulare Regional Medical Center – flunked the report for the second time this year.

Tulare Regional was one of 20 hospitals nationwide to get an “F” from the The Leapfrog Group, which gives report-card grades of A-F to hospitals twice a year, in spring and fall. The hospital failed the group’s spring report card as well as its latest assessment.

Clovis Community Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente-Fresno and Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia earned an “A” in the fall Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program.

This year, 2,633 hospitals were surveyed nationwide and given scores. Of those, 844 earned an “A,” 658 earned a “B,” 954 got a “C” and 157 earned a “D” from the Leapfrog Group, an employer-backed not-for-profit organization. Of 267 California hospitals surveyed, 81 received an “A.” Tulare was one of nine hospitals in the state to get an “F.”

Tulare Regional said it did not take part in the survey this year.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses national performance measures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

Tulare Regional scored poorly in several areas, including infection measurements, prevention of pressure ulcers, computerized medication orders to prevent medication errors and on staffing in the intensive care unit, said Erica Mobley, director of communications for Leapfrog.

“We would really encourage this hospital to take a close look at the safety practices they have in place and work to make some improvements,” Mobley said.

As we do not pay for this service, this private survey group compiles data that is, in some cases, several years old.

Kathleen Johnson, Tulare Regional Medical Center, vice president marketing

Tulare hospital officials said in an email that the hospital chose not to participate in the Leapfrog Group survey. The rating does not reflect the accurate picture of the culture of safety evident at the hospital, said Kathleen Johnson, vice president of marketing. “As we do not pay for this service, this private survey group compiles data that is, in some cases, several years old,” Johnson said.

Patient safety is a priority, she said. “Our staff and providers work tirelessly to ensure high quality, compassionate care at our facility. An accurate and current reflection of that is exemplified by the award we received from the Collaborative Alliance for Nursing Outcomes,” Johnson said.

The award recognized performance in preventing hospital-acquired infections, she said. The hospital also received its fourth American College of Radiology accreditation, which represents the highest level of image quality and patient safety.

“These enhanced processes, as well as our decision to enroll in the Leapfrog membership, will certainly be reflective in our rating going forward,” Johnson said.

Clovis Community said it uses different approaches and tools to identify and target areas for improvement. “We are on a never-ending journey to improve quality,” said Dr. Thomas Utecht, senior vice president and chief medical and quality officer at Community Medical Centers, which operates the Clovis hospital.

Kaweah Delta promotes a safety culture in the Visalia hospital that encourages employees to report potential problems so they can be addressed before an adverse event occurs, said Sandra Volchko, director of quality and patient safety.

Kaiser Permanente-Fresno credited an emphasis on infection control. The hospital is committed to providing safe and compassionate care delivery, said Debbie Hemker, senior vice president and area manager for Kaiser Permanente-Fresno.

The Leapfrog report card is the latest in hospital rankings released this year. In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services rated more than 3,500 hospitals nationwide on a one-to-five star system, with five stars the highest ranking.

Tulare Regional scored the lowest in the region, earning a one-star rating. Fresno Surgical Hospital earned the only five-star rating in the Valley. Kaweah Delta initially earned three stars but increased its score to four-star, the only hospital in the region to earn four. Nationwide, the most common rating was three stars.

The federal agency tracked hospital quality in several categories – readmission, mortality, patient experience, timeliness of care, efficient use of medical imaging, safety of care and effectiveness of care – to give an overall quality rating.

Barbara Anderson: 559-441-6310, @beehealthwriter

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