Hospitals respond to watchdog organization hospital scores - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Hospitals respond to watchdog organization hospital scores

Nonprofit organizations gather statistics to grade hospitals. (Source: WALB) Nonprofit organizations gather statistics to grade hospitals. (Source: WALB)
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital received a 'C' rating. (Source: WALB) Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital received a 'C' rating. (Source: WALB)
Dr. Steven Kitchen is the Chief Medical Officer at Phoebe. (Source: WALB) Dr. Steven Kitchen is the Chief Medical Officer at Phoebe. (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Several South Georgia hospitals are responding to scorecards released earlier this week by The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization.

Tifton Regional Health System and the Colquitt Regional Medical Center were both awarded 'A' grades from the group.

In a statement, Tift Regional hospital officials said it's because of their efforts to keep patients safe from infections, errors and accidents.

While many received top scores, other hospitals in our area did not.

Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, Phoebe Sumter Medical Center and Crisp Regional Medical Center each received a 'C' rating.

WALB reached out to Phoebe officials. 

One of the low scores was with the number of catheter-associated urinary tract infections. Phoebe explained Leapfrog used statistics from over a year ago.

During this fiscal year, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steven Kitchen said the hospital had a 45 percent reduction in those UTI numbers.

"Last month for the first time, we had zero," explained Kitchen. "So, we feel like we have the right methods in place to drive those numbers down, but like I say there is always the opportunity for improvement."

In August of 2016, the hospital added additional rounds of checklists and protocols that hospital staff said has proven to make a difference. 

Phoebe officials said the scores calculated by The Leapfrog Group are often not fully representative of the overall care patients get.

Officials from Phoebe released the following statement:

          We realize hospital ratings are important to many patients as they make decisions about where to seek care.  It is also important for patients to understand that many of the organizations that grade hospitals profit from their rankings by charging hospitals licensing fees to publicize their rankings.  Some groups also penalize hospitals that choose not to respond to the rating surveys.

          In the latest Leapfrog ratings, many large and well-respected hospitals in Georgia received grades equal to or lower than Phoebe’s.  Those scores are not fully representative of the overall care patients receive in those hospitals.

          For instance, Phoebe received a fairly low score based on information Leapfrog gathered on the number of Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections (CAUTI) patients contracted during stays in our intensive care units.  The truth is that data is a year and a half old.  As part of a concerted effort to improve patient safety at Phoebe, we established improvement teams and instituted new procedures to ensure our staff is fully engaged in improving our CAUTI rates, as well as six other specific indexes.  As a result, we lowered our rates of CAUTI and Central Line-Associated Blood Stream Infections (CLABSI) by 45% in the last Fiscal Year, and those infection rates continue to decline.  In fact, in September of this year, we had zero CAUTI cases.

          In recent years, Phoebe has not participated in the time-consuming Leapfrog surveys, however, we endorse many of the quality improvement focus points of Leapfrog.  We also believe there is great value in patients having access to the most current safety and quality information.  After carefully evaluating the issue, we have chosen to make every effort to respond to the next Leapfrog survey.  We believe that will have a positive impact on our grade and give patients a more accurate impression of the quality of care offered at Phoebe.

WALB looked into how The Leapfrog Group collects that information, and this is what we found.

Those scores are calculated using publicly available data, meaning the hospitals can send it to Leapfrog, or the organization can get it through various third parties like the Center for Disease Control.

We do know that hospitals are often charged licensing fees to have their rankings, but at this time it is unclear if that's the case with Leapfrog.

Tift Regional said they volunteered to participate in the Leapfrog Group's survey; Phoebe officials told us they chose not to participate.

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