How Do St. Louis Hospitals Grade for Patient Safety?

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The grades are in.  How did St. Louis hospitals fare in the latest report card on patient safety?

The Leapfrog Group is an independent, nonprofit organization focused on hospital patient safety.  Twice a year it publishes a set of grades for hospitals across the country for how well they protect patients from medical errors.  Each final grade comprises a hospital’s performance in several areas of patient safety concerns.

The organization just released its latest hospital safety grades.  It offers a searchable, online database for visitors to view the grades.  It lists 26 hospitals for the St. Louis area, whose overall grades are decidedly average.  Is “average” appropriate for patient safety?

Of the 26 St. Louis hospitals, eight facilities received a “C,” the same number received an “A,” and one received a “D.”  The remainder received a “B” grade for patient safety.

Each grade is broken down by specific measurements in five categories relating to preventable medical errors: infections, practices to prevent errors, surgery problems, safety issues, and the medical and administrative staff.

Examples of Hospital Medical Errors

Of those hospitals receiving a “C” grade, some of the issues cited involved:

·         Urinary tract infections acquired in the hospital

·         Surgical site infections

·         Hospital cultures that don’t make patient safety a priority

·         Communication about medicines

All are factors that contribute to avoidable medical errors that can harm hospital patients.

What Can Patients Do to Prevent Hospital Mistakes?

In addition to the safety grades for St. Louis hospitals, the Leapfrog Group effort includes recommendations for what patients can do to protect themselves from dangerous mistakes.  They suggest that patients write down any questions they may have prior to their doctors’ visits and hospital stays.  And, just as important, patients should speak up when they have questions about any treatment they are receiving, especially medications.  Drug errors are a leading source of harmful medical mistakes.

The organization also advises patients to ask upfront about medical errors, including any errors doctors may have made in the past.  And when patients are a victim of a medical mistake, they should press their caregivers to learn what went wrong and why.

That’s good advice, but may not be fruitful.  When it comes to serious medical errors, hospitals and physicians rarely are forthcoming, leaving patients and their families in the dark.

If you suspect a medical error led to serious injury to yourself or the death of a loved one, contact a medical malpractice attorney to investigate and identify all those 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., posted in Blog November 18, 2017