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VCU-CMH earns top rating in safety study / April 12, 2017
Two nationally prominent groups have come out with their annual rankings of hospital safety and patient satisfaction, and one named VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital in South Hill as among the best in the nation for patient safety.

VCU Health CMH was singled out by Healthgrades ( as one of 460 hospitals in the U.S. — and only 21 in Virginia — to receive the 2017 Patient Safety Excellence Award. The South Hill hospital is the only institution of its kind in southern Virginia to earn the distinction, which went to roughly 10 percent of hospitals nationwide.

“The 2017 Patient Safety Excellence Award that CMH received is due to the dedication and commitment on the part of all members of the CMH team. I am proud of their continued commitment toward making CMH one of the safest hospitals in the Commonwealth and in the country,” said W. Scott Burnette, CEO, VCU Health CMH, in a statement.

In a separate measure, the Leapfrog Group, which bills itself as a hospital industry watchdog, gave grades of “C” to both VCU Health CMH in South Hill and Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston. It marked the second year that both area hospitals received the mark, the most commonly-given grade for more than 2,600 health centers reviewed by Leapfrog each year.

In its assessment of patient safety, based on medical data that is reported to the government, Healthgrades measures how well hospitals prevent injuries, infections, and other serious conditions. The Leapfrog study uses much of the same data but also examines factors such consumer satisfaction and processes and structural measures such as training, computerization of records, leadership structure and the like.

This is the third consecutive year that VCU Health CMH has made Healthgrades’ list of the safest hospitals in the U.S.

Healthgrades analyzes inpatient data for Medicare patients collected from Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, for 14 patient safety indicators over a period of three years. These rankings used data from the years 2013-15.

To be eligible for the Healthgrades Patient Safety Excellence Award, a hospital must — at a minimum — have zero occurrences of foreign objects left in the body during surgery or procedures, have measurable data for at least seven patient safety indicators, and have data that places the institution in the top 80 percent of hospitals for clinical quality.

Preventable conditions reviewed by Healthgrades includes the number of patients that die following a serious complication after surgery or following a procedure where mortality is usually very low, as well as the number of patients who acquire pressure sores or bed sores in the hospital, suffer a collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest, catheter related bloodstream infections acquired at the hospital, post-surgical hip fracture, blood stream infection following surgery, deep blood clots in the lungs or legs following surgery, accidental cuts, punctures perforations or hemorrhage during medical care, breakdown of abdominal incision sites, or from

Healthgrades said 134,568 patient safety events could have been avoided if all hospitals performed like the winners did.

The website touts Healthgrades as “the leading online resource for comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, used by more than one million people a day to search, compare and connect with hospitals and physicians.”

The Leapfrog study for hospital safety is produced separately, with updated results released every six months.

Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades are assigned to more than 2,600 general acute-care hospitals across the nation using performance measures from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

Taken together, those performance measures produce a single letter grade representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. The Safety Grade includes 30 measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs.

Of the 2,639 hospitals rated by Leapfrog, 823 earned an “A, 706 a “B”, 933 a “C”, 167 a “D” and 10 an “F.”

Aside from the “C” grades given to both VCU Health CMH and Sentara Halifax, other hospitals in the region that were scored include Granville Medical Center in Oxford, N.C., which earned an “A,” and Danville Regional Medical Center - Lifepoint Health, which received a “D.”

Danville Regional received the lowest score among hospitals in Virginia rated by Leapfrog and the only one to receive a score of “D.”

VCU Health CMC Hospital’s score was impacted by a lack of data. Leapfrog utilizes from its own survey, issued in 2016. According to Leapfrog, the hospital provided no data in nine measured areas: whether it has computerized physician orders, protocols for hand hygiene, the number of physicians staffing its ICU, leadership structure, culture, measurement, feedback and intervention, teamwork training and skill building, identification and mitigation of hazards and risks, nursing workforce, medication reconciliation, and care of ventilated patients.

The hospital performed better than or near the national mean in seven patient safety indicators reviewed by Leapfrog, number of patients who suffer from bed sores in the hospital, a collapsed lung post-surgery, die from post-operative surgical complications, blood stream infections following surgery, deep blood clots in the lungs or legs following surgery, accidental cuts, punctures perforations or hemorrhage during medical care, or a breakdown of abdominal incision sites.

In two areas — foreign objects left inside the patient following surgery, and post-operative falls and trauma — where Leapfrog relied on data collected from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), VCU Health CMH Hospital fared worse than the national average.

CMS calculates these rates based on the claims it receives from hospitals that participate in the Inpatient Prospective Payment System. These measures are reported as a rate per 1,000 inpatient discharges by CMS, where zero is the best possible rate. The VCU Health CMH Hospital rate for foreign objects was 0.32, the national mean was 0.03 and for falls and trauma the hospital’s rate was 0.64 and the national mean was 0.39.

Leapfrog’s consumer assessment gave the hospital staff slightly better than average scores, 3 and 4 out of 5, when it came to communication with patients. The staff’s one area of weakness, according to consumers, is with staff responsiveness, the number of minutes a patient must wait before staff responds to a call button. Consumers gave the hospital a score of 2.

Collectively, Virginia hospitals are ranked ninth in the nation for patient safety. Fifty percent of the 70 Virginia hospitals rated by Leapfrog received an “A” grade.

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