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Sentara Halifax earns ‘C’ on safety review / November 20, 2017

Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital has earned a “C” grade on on the latest national evaluation of hospital safety released by The Leapfrog Group, which twice a year reviews 2,632 U.S. hospitals on a wide range of patient safety measures.

The grade by the local hospital puts it on par with some other hospitals in the region, including Danville Regional Medical Center and Memorial Hospital of Martinsville, which have combined to form SOVAH Health. Both also scored “C” grades on the hospital safety analysis. The highest rated hospital in the nearby area is Granville Medical Center in Oxford, N.C. which earned an “A.” Southside Community Hospital in Farmville also received an “A” grade.

VCU Community Memorial Healthcenter in South Hill got a “B,” based on the review of the hospital’s now-shuttered facility built in the 1950s. VCU-CMH last week transferred patients to a new, $93 million hospital facility built on U.S. 1 on the northern edge of the Town of South Hill.

Sentara Halifax Regional’s grade is consistent with past evaluations by The Leapfrog Group, which says the survey is intended to prod hospitals to improve patient safety. The organization notes that lapses in hospital safety — including patient injuries, accidents and infections — account for over 200,000 deaths among Americans each year. Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

The chain of Sentara Health hospitals generally scored well for patient safety, according to Leapfrog. Of 12 Sentara hospitals in Virginia and North Carolina, nine received an “A” grade and two got “C”s, including Sentara Halifax Regional and Sentara Norfolk. One Sentara hospital facility, Sentara Albemarle, received a “D.”

Sentara Halifax performed best in comparison to other hospitals in communications between doctors and nurses and patients, and in hospital staff responsiveness. It also received a score of 100 out of 100 for having a sufficient number of qualified nursing staff, matching the best performance of hospitals nationwide.

The Leapfrog Group says that errors are much more common if hospital leaders don’t make patient safety a priority. In this area of the evaluation, once again Sentara Halifax received a below average score: 101.54 out of a possible 120, with the average score being 116.34.

The hospital posted four above-average scores and three below-average scores on seven common problems occurring with surgery. Sentara Halifax rated highly in terms of not leaving dangerous objects inside a patient’s body after surgery; treating collapsed lungs; preventing surgical wounds from splitting; and responding to serious breathing problems. It fell short on three other measures: deaths from serious treatable complications, dealing with dangerous blood clots; and preventing accidental post-surgical cuts and tears.

The Leapfrog Group, one of several organizations that rank hospital safety, calls its evaluation of 2,632 hospitals “the gold standard measure of patient safety in the United States.” Of the 2,632 hospitals graded in the most recent assessment, 832 earned an “A,” 662 a “B,” 964 a “C,” 159 a “D” and 15 an “F.”

In Virginia, 41 of the 68 hospitals graded earned an “A,” 15 got a “B,” 12 received a “C” and none rated a “D” or an “F.”

Virginia ranked 5th overall among states in terms of hospital safety, with 60 percent of the state’s rated hospitals receiving a grade of “A.” Nearby North Carolina came in 12th nationally with 44 percent of hospitals receiving a grade of A. Hospitals in Maryland and Washington, D.C. were at the bottom of the rankings, 48th and 49th, respectively

Not all hospitals are evaluated by Leapfrog, including Veterans Administration hospitals and some facilities — such as Person Memorial Hospital in Roxboro, N.C. — that are deemed too small.

Elsewhere in the region and in Virginia, Duke Regional, Duke University and Duke Raleigh Hospitals in Durham and Raleigh, N.C. all earned an overall score of “A.” VCU Health Systems in Richmond received a “B.” Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson, N.C. received a “C.”

Centra Lynchburg General Hospital and Centra Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg was graded as “B”s.

Grades for all the hospitals reviewed by Leapfrog are available online at The website also offers a description of the data and methodology used in determining the scores.

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