Are Alabama hospitals safe? Healthcare watchdog group releases report cards

Are Alabama hospitals safe? Healthcare watchdog group releases report cards
(Source: WBRC Video)

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - We're finding out just how safe hospitals are in Alabama. Leapfrog, a healthcare watch dog group, is handing out grades. Leapfrog grades hospitals on things like infection rates during hospital stays and issues during surgeries.

For the most part, the hospitals in the Birmingham area received passing grades. UAB and UAB highlands both receiving an "A." Hospital administration attributes that to the quality of care.

UAB Medical West received a "C," which is an improvement from a "D" grade last year. However, UAB Medical West CEO Keith Pennington feels Leapfrog uses old data. In a statement, Pennington tells WBRC the hospital has made improvements in patient care.

"Medical West is committed to providing the highest quality healthcare services to our community. Patients have many resources and options to inform themselves when making health care decisions, and Leapfrog is one of them. As with any report card, the Leapfrog grades must be interpreted in context. For example, some of the data used to calculate hospital grades are more than two years old, and may not reflect more recent performance improvement efforts. Over the past four rating periods, our Leapfrog safety scores have consistently been trending upward. There are other resources that include more timely data which reflect favorably on Medical West. We have performed well in many areas and continue to aggressively implement programs to improve these measures. The public will continue to see the results of our ongoing improvements in future survey results," Pennington said.

In the Brookwood Baptist family of hospitals, Shelby Baptist in Alabaster received an "A." In a statement, the hospital's CEO Keith Parrott says the "A" designation for Shelby is a testament to its patients that the hospital is providing them with the highest level of safety and care.

"Every day, we focus on driving improvements in care delivery and patient satisfaction. Our clinical leaders regularly review our hospital's patient care processes and compare our data to nationally recognized benchmarks and best practices. Nothing is more important than offering our patients trusted care in a safe environment, and we have a number of initiatives underway to support these efforts. We take our responsibility to provide the safest possible environment for our patients very seriously, and we believe our continued focus in these areas will be reflected positively in future grade releases," Parrott said.

A handful of hospitals in east and west Alabama received "C" and "D" grades.

DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa received a "C" grade.

"DCH is committed to patient safety, and we work on it every day. We conduct daily safety huddles involving our patient care teams. We work on a variety of patient safety measures, including reducing and eventually eliminating urinary catheter and central line infections. These and other efforts have shown improvements that we expect to be reflected in data that will be reported by the federal government and other agencies. We support Leapfrog's continued efforts to improve safety in our hospitals," hospital spokesperson Brad Fisher said.

You can find a complete list of grades on Alabama hospitals from Leapfrog here.

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