Interactive Map: Which NJ Hospitals Made the Grade On Safety?

Safety scores for New Jersey hospitals, based on measures of injuries, accidents and preventable medical and medication errors for 2011.

The Leapfrog Group

No New Jersey hospital got a failing grade on the most recent safety report card issued by a national nonprofit organization dedicated to healthcare quality.

Overall, however, the state’s hospital system was rated slightly less safe in 2011 than it had been the previous year.

The Leapfrog Group yesterday released its new Hospital Safety Scores based on 26 measures of data involving preventable medical errors, injuries, accidents and infections for all of the nation’s general acute-care hospitals. For the first time, the group gave out grades of D and F.

Only one New Jersey hospital, Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County, got a D.

But performance at eight New Jersey hospitals dropped from a B to a C, with a total of 24 getting a C grade, while 23 got an A and 22 got a B.

That was counter to the national trend, which found improvement to be the norm. New Jersey’s ranking among the states dropped from 12th using the 2010 data to 15th.

“There is still a long way to go,” said Leapfrog’s president, Leah Binder.

Binder said that at least 180,000 patients die every year as a result of errors, accidents, injuries, and infections in American hospitals.

Leapfrog was founded in 2000 by a group of employers and private healthcare experts seeking to improve the safety, quality and affordability of healthcare by promoting transparency.

It issued its first safety report card last June and gave only grades of A-C and not graded in order to give hospitals time to get used to the system.

After tweaking its methodology based on recommendations from experts, the new scorecard includes 122 Ds and 25 Fs, which Binder called “a very strong statement of frank disapproval of safety” to hospitals across the country.

Lourdes, located in Willingboro, got the state’s only D. Hospital officials say that was because the survey’s methodology relies more heavily on process measures than on measures of patient outcomes. Of 10 patient-outcome measures, Lourdes scored better than the national average on half and worse than average on the rest.

“Lourdes Health System is fully committed to patient safety and transparency and has been an early New Jersey participant in the Leapfrog Survey,” said Dr. Alan Pope, the hospital’s chief medical officer. “Leapfrog’s approach tends to over-weight the availability of systems such as computerized physician order entry, which Lourdes is currently implementing, over clinical outcomes. Other safety ratings organizations such as Consumer Reports have ranked LMCBC among the top 5 hospitals in the state.”

On the other hand, officials at Somerset Medical Center said they were proud to have been one of roughly one-third of the state’s hospitals to get the highest safety grade.

“We’ve seen success from our patient safety initiatives,” said Mary Bollwage, the hospital’s vice president of risk management and quality services. “We’ve invested in advanced electronic information systems to achieve a full Computerized Physician Order Entry technology that reduces the risk of medication errors and facilitates expedient care. We’ve implemented a comprehensive, multidisciplinary falls prevention program and enhanced infection prevention efforts to prevent hospital acquired infections … We also hold ongoing education programs for our physicians and staff, including an annual patient safety symposium where we host national experts on patient safety.”

Following the issuance of the first report card, several New Jersey hospital officials complained that urban hospitals with larger populations of uninsured patients seemed to score lower. Leapfrog officials said yesterday that no one class of hospitals dominated the A ratings and that the ranks of the best included hospitals serving vulnerable, impoverished and health-challenged populations.

To see a hospital’s rating and get a link to all of its scores, click on it on the map. More about the ratings, as well as a way to report safety problems, is available on the group’s website, as well as on a mobile app it has created.