Grading St. Louis Hospitals for Preventing Medical Errors

If you had to give your hospital a patient safety grade after a stay by you or a family member, what grade would that be?  According to a new rating effort, most Missouri hospitals would only grade a “C” for keeping their patients safe from preventable medical errors.

A nonprofit organization that’s focused on patient safety called The Leapfrog Group annually grades hospitals across the country.  The grades follow the typical school system, ranging from “A” to “F.”

Leapfrog recently published its Spring 2017 grades.  Compared to all states, Missouri ranked 20th, with just 37 percent of its hospitals receiving the highest grade.  Illinois had one-third of its hospitals with an “A” grade and finished at 23rd.

Almost Half of Local Hospitals Graded a “C” for Patient Safety

Twenty seven hospitals within a 50-mile radius of St. Louis, including both sides of the Mississippi River, were graded.  Of those, 13 hospitals received a “C” grade.  The same number of St. Louis area hospitals received an “A,” and one received a “B.”

The hospital grades are broken down for areas that are common examples of medical errors.  They include several types of hospital acquired infections, such as blood infections in the ICU, surgical site infections, and urinary tract infections.

Other areas of preventable medical mistakes that factor into the grades are patient falls, proper patient record keeping to avoid serious medication errors, staff handwashing, and communicating patient discharge plans.

Steps Hospital Patients Can Take to Help Guard Against Medical Errors

These grades reflect the reality that you can’t always count on error-free hospital stays.  So Leapfrog also provided some tips you and your family can take to help guard against becoming victims of a serious medical mistake:

  • Bring all prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking so that your caregivers can review and note them
  • Take written notes for yourself or a family member who is receiving care
  • If you or a family member is undergoing surgery, be sure the surgeon signs the part of the body that is being operated on

Despite the precautions you and your family take, it’s still the ultimate responsibility of doctors and hospitals to provide a reasonable standard of care.

So if you or a loved one was critically hurt during a hospital stay due to a careless error, speak with a medical malpractice attorney who is experienced in investigating medical mistakes and determining who is responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C. in Blog April 14, 2017