Washing hands. Giving patients the right medication. Having enough qualified nurses.
Those are among the basics steps that hospitals and their workers can take to ensure that patients are as safe as possible. They’re also areas in which some New Jersey hospitals have room to improve, according to conclusions drawn from data collected by the Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C., -based nonprofit dedicated to improving healthcare quality.
The organization scored hospitals in eight areas it described as “steps to avoid harm.” Those scores were then combined into an overall rating of 1 (the lowest) to 4 (the highest).
In New Jersey, 47 hospitals that participated in the survey received the highest rating of 4. However, nine hospitals received a rating of 3, and three hospitals received the lowest rating of 1 (no New Jersey hospitals received a rating of 2). In addition, 11 hospitals declined to participate in the survey.
Five of the eight factors that were used to calculate the “steps to avoid harm” score were related to what the Leapfrog Group described as a hospital’s “safety culture.” They include: effective leadership to prevent errors, staff working together to prevent errors, training to improve safety, tracking and reducing risks to patients, and having enough qualified nurses.
The final three factors were: hand washing, taking steps to prevent ventilator problems, and ensuring that correct medication information is communicated.
Each of these factors is based on a series of questions submitted to hospitals. For example, the hand-washing factor was scored on questions that included whether a hospital, over the previous 12 months, had evaluated how to improve hand hygiene; held leaders accountable for infections related to inadequate hand washing; conducted staff training on hand washing; and implemented a formal program to improve performance to prevent hand-washing-related infections.
The advantage for hospitals is that if they make changes based on the report, they can dramatically improve their scores next year.
Hospitals with a No. 1 rating:
Inspira Medical Center Woodbury
Areas were this hospital could improve the most are in ensuring that correct medication information is communicated and in the staff working together to prevent errors.
Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, Secaucus
The worst scores for Meadowlands were in tracking and reducing risks to patients and in the staff working together to prevent errors.
University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro
The hospital also did poorly in tracking and reducing risks to patients and in the staff working together to prevent errors.
Hospitals with No. 3 rating
Cape Regional Medical Center, Cape May Court House
Cape Regional, like all of the hospitals in this group, has many fewer problems than the hospitals that received a No. 1. Its worst area was hand washing.
Its worst area was effective leadership to prevent errors.
HackensackUMC Mountainside, Montclair
It can improve slightly in tracking and reducing risks to patients.
Inspira Medical Center Vineland
Its biggest area in need of improvement is training to improve safety.
Raritan Bay Medical Center of Old Bridge
It can increase training to improve safety and hand washing.
Raritan Bay Medical Center of Perth Amboy
Its lowest score was in training to improve safety.
Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton
Its biggest area for improvement is in effective leadership to prevent errors.
University Hospital, Newark
University’s worst area was in having enough qualified nurses.
The following hospitals declined to respond: Atlanticare Regional Medical Center-Mainland Campus, Pomona; CentraState Healthcare System, Freehold; Deborah Heart and Lung Center, Browns Mills; East Orange General Hospital; Memorial Hospital of Salem County, Salem; Saint Michael’s Medical Center, Newark; St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, Paterson; St. Joseph’s Wayne Hospital; St. Luke’s Warren Campus, Phillipsburg; St. Mary’s Hospital of Passaic.