Health & Fitness

County Pulse: Doctors Medical Center gets another A on safety report card

Doctors Medical Center recently received its fourth consecutive A grade from The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog service that regularly tracks the medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections that harm patients in more than 2,500 hospitals in the country.
Doctors Medical Center recently received its fourth consecutive A grade from The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog service that regularly tracks the medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections that harm patients in more than 2,500 hospitals in the country. Modesto Bee file

Doctors Medical Center of Modesto received a fourth consecutive A from The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog service that regularly tracks the medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections that harm patients in more than 2,500 hospitals in the country.

Leapfrog, a nonprofit founded by employers and other health insurance purchasers, estimates that more than 200,000 patient deaths in hospitals each year are attributed to medical mistakes, injuries or the health care intended to heal the patients.

Hospitals earning an A grade should be safer for consumers than other facilities, says the group, which issues the report cards twice a year.

In late April, Leapfrog gave the highest safety mark to 798 facilities in the nation and 59 in California.

Doctors Medical Center was the only hospital in Stanislaus County to receive an A. Getting a C were Memorial Medical Center of Modesto, Emanuel Medical Center of Turlock and the Kaiser Permanente hospital in Modesto.

In San Joaquin County, Doctors Hospital of Manteca also received an A; Sutter Tracy Community Hospital earned a B; the Kaiser hospital in Manteca was given a C; and San Joaquin County General Hospital in French Camp earned a D.

Doctors of Modesto has received an A grade for safety since fall 2014.

“This is a tremendous affirmation of the high standards of patient care provided by our physicians, nurses and other staff on a daily basis to our community,” said Warren Kirk, the hospital’s chief executive officer.

The most recent analysis considered 30 different measures of safety based on publicly reported hospital data from the past couple of years. For the first time, the April results included two common infections picked up in hospitals – antibiotic-resistant staph and C. difficile. The report card also considered information from patients on their health care experience.

Dr. Edward Stanford, chief medical officer for Doctors, said consistent A grades are possible if all staff members follow the hospital’s safety standards.

The hospital has protocols so that patents are not infected by catheters, and foreign objects are not left inside surgical patients after they are sewn up, he said.

To control C. difficile bacteria, patient rooms are cleaned with the proper materials, and often-touched items, including the drapes, are changed out after a patient is discharged, Stanford said.

“The hardest thing in medicine is creating sustainable changes that work,” Stanford said. “It requires a lot of hard work by everyone to not drop the ball and make sure patient safety is the No. 1 goal.”

Doctors Medical Center is privately owned but has a policy of caring for patients from a six-county region, regardless of their ability to pay.

The Leapfrog Group insists that the safety scores matter. Patients admitted to a B-rated hospital have a 9 percent higher risk of death from an avoidable cause; the risk is elevated 35 percent in hospitals with a C and 50 percent in facilities with a D or F, the group says.

Consumers with Apple and Android devices can download hospital safety score mobile apps for free. The safety scores can be viewed at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321

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