HMH Leapfrog Group Safety Grade Improves

April 14, 2014

HMH credits staff, new techniques, patients, community as keys to success 

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. – The Leapfrog Group released its bi-annual hospital safety grades this week giving Hardin Memorial Health a “B,” up from its “C” grade last fall.

The national nonprofit evaluates and reports on safety and quality performance of more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide. Of the 51 hospitals rated in Kentucky, 16 received a “B” rating. Twelve received an “A” rating.

Leapfrog looks at publicly available measures of safety – inpatient injuries, infections, and medical and medication errors.

While pleased with the improved rating, HMH officials emphasized that there are still opportunities to improve. 

“Our goal is always zero deficiencies and an ‘A’ grade,” said Sharon Wright, HMH Chief Nursing Officer. “We look at the many national ratings and rankings, including Leapfrog, as an opportunity to learn and improve.”

Wright gives the HMH team credit for the gains but says patients and their families also influence safety scores. 

“Infection control is a public health issue,” said Wright. “We need everyone’s help to keep infections at bay.” 

Wright cited stringent hand washing protocols at HMH and the role patients and their families play in infection control.

“HMH expects patients and their visitors to practice proper hand hygiene and to speak up if anyone providing care inadvertently forgets to sanitize their hands when they come and go from patient rooms,” said Wright.

Wright also emphasized how the over prescription of antibiotics contributes to the spread of Clostridium difficile (C. Diff.), a bacterium that people often have before they come to the hospital.

“We cannot treat viruses with antibiotics. Their overuse is increasing the occurrences of C. Diff. and putting people at risk. We must continue to educate that antibiotics are not always the answer.” 

Wright also mentioned several other protocols HMH uses to reduce the risk of infection: new ultra violet light cleaning equipment; stronger longer-lasting antibacterial cleansers; the use of personal protection equipment for isolation patients and protocols that limit catheter use and, thereby reduce risk of infection.

“Providing the very best and safest patient care remains a constant priority, even when our rankings and ratings improve. We use only evidence-based protocols and we constantly evaluate their effectiveness,” said Wright.

The improved hospital safety grade from the Leapfrog Group comes on the heels of HMH’s 2016 4-star rating from the federal government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS). This rating means HMH ranks among the top 25 percent of hospitals in the country and that HMH is among the best hospitals in Kentucky.

In fact, of the 82 Kentucky hospitals CMS rated, only 16 earned four stars and none received five stars. To determine rankings, CMS uses 64 quality measures in seven categories: mortality, safety of care, readmissions, patient experience, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.

Wright and the HMH team consider the CMS ranking the most unbiased and comprehensive but consider any survey rating, like Leapfrog, a meaningful opportunity to make HMH even safer, she said.