MODESTO -- Memorial Medical Center and Kaiser Permanente's Modesto hospital held onto their "A" scores for patient safety from a nonprofit group that created a stir with its hospital safety report cards in 2012.
In June, the two centers in Modesto received the highest scores from The Leapfrog Group, a national organization that rates hospitals based on medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections. Administrators at low-scoring medical centers across the country challenged the group's scoring system, and the American Hospital Association advised people to disregard the ratings when choosing a hospital.
The scores for Memorial and the Kaiser hospital didn't change when Leapfrog recently released another set of results after redoing an analysis of the patient-safety data it uses. Leapfrog is run by employers and other large organizations that purchase health benefits.
"Hospitals that earn an 'A' have demonstrated their commitment to their patients and their community," Leah Binder, president of The Leapfrog Group, said in a recent news release.
Thirty percent of the 2,600 hospitals evaluated in the United States received the top score. Leapfrog recommends that patients choose hospitals with an "A" score. If a facility has a lesser grade, Leapfrog suggests that people talk with their doctors at those hospitals about improving safety protocols.
Also receiving "A" scores were the Kaiser hospital in Manteca and Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.
None of the hospitals in the Northern San Joaquin Valley received less than an average score from the nonprofit rating service. Modesto's Doctors Medical Center, which serves patients in a six-county region, was given a "C." A hospital spokeswoman did not return messages from The Bee on Monday.
Other ratings included "C" grades for Emanuel Medical Center of Turlock, Doctors Hospital of Manteca and Sonora Regional Medical Center. There were no safety scores for Stanislaus Surgical Hospital of Modesto and Oak Valley Hospital of Oakdale. Leapfrog says that sufficient data was not available to fairly score some facilities.
Scores from "A" to "F" are assigned to hospitals on The Leapfrog Group's website. Hospitals such as the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Cleveland Clinic of Ohio reacted strongly when they received "F" and "D" scores, respectively, from Leapfrog in late November.
The American Hospital Association has claimed there are shortcomings in Leapfrog's hospital safety survey and said an unfair bias is shown to facilities that respond to the voluntary survey.
"We believe the issues we raise about the survey methodology and choice of measures call into question whether the scorecard meets the criteria The Leapfrog Group has established and, therefore, whether it is a tool on which patients can rely," wrote AHA President Rich Umbdenstock in challenging the scores.
Julie Meyers, a regional executive of quality services for Sutter Health, said this week that the Sutter-affiliated hospitals in Modesto and Tracy were pleased to receive the top scores.
Leapfrog also looks at hospital safety data that is reported to the federal government and calculates the scores under the guidance of experts from top universities.
Meyers noted that Memorial has scored high for its care of surgical patients. To prevent infections, the hospital staff makes sure patients are given the right antibiotics before the procedure and that antibiotics are discontinued at the proper time, she said.
The hospital also works on preventing bloodstream infections caused by central lines and has measures to keep patients from falling in their rooms or suffering pressure sores, Meyers said.
As part of the safety information provided to Leapfrog, Memorial has shown that its electronic records system can recognize dosing errors and issue alerts if a doctor makes a mistake in prescribing medicine on the system.
Meyers said she believes the Leapfrog scores are "something patients can use to make quality health care decisions. It pulls together a lot of information that is consumer friendly."
Kaiser released a statement regarding the safety scores for its hospitals in Modesto and Manteca. "Our physicians, nurses and staff work diligently to provide our patients with personalized, coordinated and technologically advanced health care," said Corwin Harper, senior vice president and Central Valley area manager for Kaiser.
Harper said the efforts have "a positive and often life-changing impact on the health and well being of our members and their communities."
Scores for other hospitals in San Joaquin County included a "B" for St. Joseph's Medical Center in Stockton and a "C" for San Joaquin General Hospital in French Camp. Mercy Medical Center in Merced received a "C" for patient safety.
On the Net: www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2321.
HOSPITAL REPORT CARDS
Compare hospital safety scores by going to www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Enter your ZIP code to find scores for hospitals in your area.
The Leapfrog Group bases the scores on a voluntary hospital safety survey and patient data reported by hospitals to health care agencies.
The scores are calculated under the guidance of a nine-member panel of experts.
The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits.