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Orange County hospitals earn high safety ratings

MemorialCare Health System and UC Irvine Medical Center receive high grades from Leapfrog Group

by Caitlin AdamsPublished: June 12, 2012 06:55 AM

St. Joseph Hospital in Orange
Orange County’s hospitals are among the safest medical institutions in the country, according to grades assigned by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national healthcare nonprofit comprised of employers and large purchasers of health benefits. Ten hospitals and medical centers in the region have received an “A” grade in safety from the organization in a report released this month.

The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score is a letter grade the organization assigns to institutions based on 26 measures of criteria, using publicly available information relating to hospital safety. Leapfrog defines safety as the national measure of overall performance of keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. Of the 264 hospitals in California that were graded by Leapfrog, only 37 percent received an “A.”

Orange County hospitals to receive the highest safety grade include:

“The Leapfrog Group’s goal is to give patients the information they need and deserve before even entering a hospital,” said Leah Binder, Leapfrog Group president and CEO. “We congratulate hospitals earning an ‘A’ and look forward to when all U.S. hospitals earn the highest scores for putting patient safety first.”

“UC Irvine’s top priority is providing the highest-quality care and ensuring the safety of every patient we treat,” said Dr. William Barron, the UC Irvine Medical Center’s chief medical officer. “We are continually seeking ways to improve that care and the patient experience.”

Leapfrog’s nine-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel of health safety experts calculate the hospital scores, with each safety measure analyzed based on evidence, performance, impact and opportunity for improvement

“It is a great honor to be recognized as two of the safest hospitals in Orange County and in the state,” said Darrin Montalvo, executive vice president of St. Joseph Health for the Southern California Region, the parent organization for both St. Joseph and St. Jude. “At St. Joseph Health we pride ourselves on our commitment to providing perfect care to the communities we serve, and this is a testament to our success.”

 “Our 14,000 physicians, nurses, clinical and support staff pursue treatments and therapies that work best,” says Barry Arbuckle, Ph.D., MemorialCare Health System president & CEO. “This newest national recognition from The Leapfrog Group affirms that our tremendous efforts and results in quality, safety and clinical outcomes have not gone unnoticed. We are honored to be included among the nation’s safest hospitals.”

Safety measures are broken down into process, structural and outcome procedures, each of which represent a specific area of protocol. Process measures represent the institution’s standards for following recommended care and treatment for specific conditions or procedures, such as administering antibiotics within a specific timeframe prior to and following surgery.

Structural measures examine the systems in place for providing care, and the environment in which it is administered, such as whether the hospital employs the use of a Computerized Physician Order Entry system to prevent medication errors. Outcome measures are the protocols that are followed while a patient receives cares, such as the number of incidences in which a patient undergoing surgery was left with a foreign object inside his or her body following the procedure – this can occasionally occur with small surgical sponges or similar items).

"Kaiser Permanente's electronic medical record system, combined with our infection control surveillance technology and the commitment of our people, enables us to maintain the highest quality of care and safety for our patients," said Dr. Edward Ellison, executive medical director for the Southern California Permanente Medical Group.  "Our physicians and staff are proud of the consistently high marks Kaiser Permanente is receiving from such prestigious organizations as The Leapfrog Group.  This is great news for our members and the communities we serve."

Leapfrog’s complete scoring methodology can be found here.

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