BR General Tops in Safety


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Advocate business writer

June 06, 2012

Baton Rouge General Medical Center was the lone area hospital to get an A in Hospital Safety Score, a Leapfrog Group-created ranking of hospitals nationwide.

The grades are based on preventable hospital conditions, such as infections, medication errors, acquired injuries such as bedsores, and other sources of harm, including falls, that can often be fatal, according to the report.

Ochsner Medical Center-Baton Rouge received a B, while the other Baton Rouge-area hospitals received C’s, according to the report.

Some local hospitals complained of not receiving the report or knowing how grades were calculated and what they mean.

“We’re not saying that somebody who got a B or a C is a horrible hospital. We’re not,” said David Knowlton, president and chief executive officer of the New Jersey Healthcare Quality Institute and chairman of The Leapfrog Group’s Patient Safety Committee. “We’re saying we want everybody to get A’s.”

“Really there are two elements to your care. The first element is finding a physician and a team that’s going to provide optimal care …,” Knowlton said. “But then the other component that encompasses the majority of care in the hospital is what systems the hospital has in place to make sure the hospital is a safe place and to ensure that no harm is done to you by virtue of you being in the hospital.”

For example, a patient goes into a hospital for a hip replacement, the surgeon does a wonderful job and the operation is a success, Knowlton said. But while in the hospital, the patient picks up an infection and spends months fighting it off or, worse, dies from the complications.

Patients should consider the second element of care in deciding where to get care, he said.

The Leapfrog Group, whose membership includes various large corporations and public agencies that buy health benefits, uses employer-buying power to push the health industry to make big leaps in improving health-care safety, quality and customer value, according to its website.

The idea is to get people to ask questions, Knowlton said. Consumers may completely trust their doctors, but still be able to tell their physician they’re uncomfortable being sent to a C hospital.

Doing so will generate two results, Knowlton said. Doctors will put pressure on the hospital to do more to protect against errors, and hospital administrators will realize they have to pay more attention to patient safety or risk losing their physicians.

“Every time you take data and make it transparent, you bring about change and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Knowlton said.

In an email, Dr. Floyd Roberts, Baton Rouge General’s chief medical officer, said the hospital was pleased by its grade.

“Patient safety and quality are Baton Rouge General’s highest priorities and this is reflected in the culture of safety that we have created at our hospital,” he said. “We take a collaborative approach by engaging our physicians, frontline clinicians and staff in continuously enhancing our processes to provide the safest, highest-quality care for our patients,” Roberts said.

Amy Delaney, a spokeswoman for Ochsner, said the hospital’s administration and quality personnel had not gotten the report and could not comment.

“Since we have not seen the Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Scorecard, and do not know the source of the data, we are unable to respond to these scores,” Teri Fontenot, Woman’s president and chief executive officer, said in a prepared statement.

Knowlton said Leapfrog had shared the data with the hospitals three weeks ago.

However, Woman’s and Ochsner are not alone in saying they had not seen the report.

According to the American Hospital Association, The Leapfrog Group had communications problems, so many hospitals were not able to see their own scores, had no information on how the scores were calculated or what the scores might mean.

Terrie Sterling, the Our Lady of the Lake’s chief operating officer, said the hospital has participated in a number of other databases that measure quality of care but this was its first time to participate in a Leapfrog Group database.

She is not sure the hospital will continue to do so.

The Lake was pleased by some of the results, she said. The Lake’s nursing score was 100 percent and its leadership ranking was also very strong.

But the hospital does have questions about other areas of the report, Sterling said.

Parts of the ranking were based on hospitals’ self-assessments, she said. The Lake graded itself stringently, but it’s possible other facilities took a different approach, she said.

The Lake’s analytics’ staff has taken a cursory look at the report but will drill down into the data for a more detailed review, Sterling said.

Sterling said the hospital was concerned that some Leapfrog participants, like the Cleveland Clinic, have opted out.

The Lake supports transparency and helping consumers make informed decisions, Sterling said. The Leapfrog rankings are just one source of information.

If consumers want updated information — Leapfrog used data from 2008 and 2010 — they can find it on the Lake’s website,, she said.

Consumers will be able to access the Leapfrog ratings beginning Wednesday on