How North Bay hospitals scored in Leapfrog’s fall patient safety ratings
A nonprofit health care watchdog group that ranks hospitals nationwide twice a year on patient safety measures has changed the grades of seven North Bay hospitals since May — some better, some worse.
In its fall 2023 Hospital Safety Grades report, the Leapfrog Group lowered the rankings of three hospitals: Kaiser Permanente Vacaville Medical Center from an “A” to a “B,” Adventist Health St. Helena from an “A” to a “C,” and Petaluma Valley Hospital, from a “C” to a “D.” The latter hospital is operated by Providence. The Washington, D.C.-based Leapfrog Group released the results Nov. 6.
On the other end of the spectrum, three hospitals moved up from a “B” grade in the spring to an “A” this fall. They are Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, Novato Community Hospital — also a Sutter facility, and MarinHealth Medical Center.
Elevated from a “C” to a “B” was Adventist Health Ukiah Valley.
According to Leapfrog, the fall rankings show hospitals across the country are reducing health care-acquired infections post-pandemic after significant increases during the pandemic.
Such infections can be related to medical devices, such as central lines and urinary catheters, or spread from patient to patient after contact with an infected person or surface, the U.S Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services states on its website. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects such data from the National Healthcare Safety Network.
Leapfrog stated its fall 2023 safety grades are the first to reflect hospital performance since the end of the pandemic.
“Now that we have pre- and post-pandemic data for patient safety measures, we are encouraged by the improvement in infections and applaud hospitals for reversing the disturbing infection spike we saw during the pandemic,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, stated in the release. “However, there’s still more work to be done.”
Leapfrog ranks nearly 3,000 U.S. general hospitals based on more than 30 measures that include the number of preventable errors, injuries, accidents and infections. One new measure — total nursing care hours per patient day — was added in the fall.
Scores also include the basics of medical care, such as hand-washing, proper data entry of prescriptions, and measures that hospitals take to prevent falls.
Five of the 30 measures address patient experiences, which directly impact patient safety outcomes. Those measures are nurse communication, doctor communication, staff responsiveness, communication about medicine and discharge information.
California was among five states with the most significant declines in reported patient experience in the category of doctor communication, according to Leapfrog. Nationally, patient experience scores across the board worsened for the second year in a row.
For other hospitals in the North Bay, Leapfrog’s safety grade rankings were unchanged from the spring.
Continuing to receive an “A” grade for patient safety were Kaiser Permanente medical centers in San Rafael, Santa Rosa and Vallejo.
Retaining “B” grades were NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield and NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville, both operated by NorthBay Health. Sonoma Valley Hospital and Sutter Solano Medical Center also maintained a “B.”
Providence Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Providence Queen of the Valley Medical Center in Napa both stayed at a “C,” according to Leapfrog.
Some health care systems, such as Kaiser Permanente, supply their data to Leapfrog, while others choose not to participate in Leapfrog's surveys.
Not participating are Providence hospitals; Sonoma Valley Hospital, operated by Sonoma Valley Health Care District; Adventist Health Clear Lake; and hospitals operated by Sutter Health. Hospitals that don’t participate are assigned a safety grade based on publicly available data from numerous sources, according to Leapfrog.
Leapfrog isn’t the only organization that measures hospital safety performance and other measures, although nonprofit Cal Hospital Compares cites Leapfrog ratings as part of its scoring system.
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services every year releases its Overall Hospital Quality Ratings, scoring hospitals between one and five stars. And Denver-based Healthgrades annually evaluates U.S. hospitals on mortality rates and in-hospital complications, taking into consideration patient risk factors such as age, gender and medical condition.