Five Chicago hospitals earned D grades for patient safety, though Illinois ranks 14th in the nation when it comes to hospitals protecting patients, according to a new report.
No Illinois hospital earned an F grade this year — an improvement over last fall when two Illinois hospitals received Fs, according to the nonprofit Leapfrog Group. The five Chicago hospitals that received D grades for safety are: Jackson Park, Loretto, Stroger, Mount Sinai and Weiss Memorial.
Overall, 42 Illinois hospitals got As, 30 got Bs and 33 got Cs. Among those that got As are 10 Amita Health hospitals and all four NorthShore University HealthSystem hospitals.
At least two big-name Chicago hospitals — Northwestern Memorial and Rush University Medical Center — were left off the A list, getting Bs instead. Northwestern slipped to a B, from an A in the fall, while Rush maintained its B.
Illinois’ overall ranking of 14th in the country for hospital safety was down one spot from the fall. Not all Illinois hospitals were given grades, only those for which enough data was federally available, Leapfrog said.
Twice a year, Leapfrog grades hospitals on 28 measures of safety, including hand hygiene, intensive care unit physician staffing, bedsores and falls. Hospitals that earn high marks often tout them to attract more patients.
“We’re looking at patient safety, period,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group. “It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest surgeon in the world, if you get an infection or there’s an error in the medications you’re given, you’ll be harmed or even killed from those problems.”
To that point, patients at hospitals that get D and F grades may face greater danger than patients at A hospitals, according to a white paper also released Wednesday by Leapfrog. At A-rated hospitals, an estimated 3.2 people died of avoidable deaths per 1,000 patients admitted, whereas in D and F hospitals, 6.2 patients per 1,000 admitted died avoidable deaths, according to the paper, produced for Leapfrog by the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.
Leaders of Illinois’ low-scoring hospitals, however, noted that the data upon which Leapfrog bases its grades is, in some cases, several years old.
A number of local hospital leaders said they’ve worked to improve patient safety since that time.
Loretto Hospital, on the city’s West Side, has already implemented new measures to reduce the number of falls and infections, said Olu Ayeni, director of quality and patient safety. The hospital’s leadership has also changed since the data was recorded.
“The culture of safety has improved,” Ayeni said. “There’s no reason why we should not be able to keep our patients safe.”
Sinai Health System, which runs Mount Sinai Hospital on the West Side, also got a D, up from an F in the fall — though much work remains, said Dr. Mira Iliescu, the system’s vice president and chief medical officer, in a statement.
“Our real-time data is showing we are already making important strides and have seen a significant improvement in our overall quality and safety performance indicators,” she said.
Stroger also received a D, but its leaders said they disagree with that grade and Leapfrog’s methodology. The data used by ratings groups is “often years old and frequently limited in scope,” said Dr. Ronald Wyatt, chief quality officer for Cook County Health, in a statement.
“We take great pride in the high quality, safe care provided at Stroger Hospital, where we often treat individuals with highly complex conditions and equally complex social circumstances,” Wyatt said.
The owner of Weiss Hospital, Pipeline Health, noted in a statement that since the data was collected, the hospital has changed hands. The hospital has already reduced the number of central line and catheter infections in the last year, thanks to new procedures, according to the statement.
A representative from Jackson Park Hospital declined to comment.
Rush attributed its B grade to issues with hospital claims data, not patient safety. “We feel confident the quality of care we provided was safe at that time,” said Dr. Bala Hota, Rush chief analytics officer and associate chief medical officer.
Northwestern said in a statement it’s “committed to providing high quality, patient-centered care in the safest health care environment possible.”
Leapfrog is just one of a number of organizations that regularly rate hospitals. Each group, however, has its own methodology which can lead to differing results for the same hospitals and, potentially, confusion for consumers.
Bruce McNulty, chief medical officer at Swedish Covenant Hospital on the city’s North Side, said the grades are still useful for hospitals and consumers, if imperfect. Swedish was one of five Chicago hospitals to get an A — something the hospital achieved partly by reducing infection rates and implementing a bar code system to help prevent medication errors, he said.
“I think there are a number of ways you can potentially criticize something like this,” McNulty said of hospital rating systems. “But I think it’s important we be held to the highest standard and always try to be better.”