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California Hospitals Ranked on Patient Safety

A nonprofit group recently issued a nationwide "report card" evaluating various hospital's records on patient safety. The evaluations covered 246 hospitals located in California. Many in California were dismayed to learned that the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center was evaluated as having earned a failing grade. 

The report was put together by the Leapfrog Group, an organization funded by employers to promote quality healthcare. It found that UCLA seriously fell down on implementing a number of recommended procedures intended to prevent patients in hospitals from getting infections, deter doctors from committing medical malpractice, and lower patient death rates.

It estimates that medical malpractice involving medical errors, hospital accidents, and in-hospital contracted infections cause about 100,000 patient deaths annually. It also says that around ten times or, or 1 million patients suffer non-fatal injuries each year as a consequence of such mistake and problems. It asserts that this shows that more needs to be done to enhance patient safety protection and guard against common medical mistakes. The group hopes that patients and their families will view the report card evaluation of hospitals they are using and that the hospitals themselves will attempt to improve their performance.

The group had actually initially withheld its classification of UCLA as failing, hoping that giving the facility some time would help it improve its performance. The hospital stated that it disagreed with the group's evaluation. Only 24 other hospitals in the entire nation were evaluated as failing. One factor that lowered the hospital's rating was the death of a liver transplant patient at the hospital during surgery. This occurred as the result of a preventable medical error, an air embolism.

Other problems found to exist at the hospital included patients developing pressure ulcers while hospitalized, and medical staff members leaving sponges or other foreign objects in patients during surgery.

The report also found Western Medical Center Anaheim to be failing in protecting patient safety, a conclusion also disputed by that hospital's management. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center was previously the recipient of a top notch A grade in an earlier report issued by the group, but that grade was dropped to a C or average, after additional information about the hospital's performance from last year was received.

The report evaluates hospital performance on 26 six areas relating to patient safety, based on data that the hospitals already report to the public. 

Across the country, a total of 146 hospitals (6 percent) were labeled as earning a grade of D or F. 1,004 hospitals (38 percent) were judged C for average, while 1,468 hospitals (56 percent) were given an A or B for above average patient safety performance. California, in which 92 hospitals were evaluated, ranked 11th on the percentage of A hospitals (37 percent), while a number of other states had as high as 80 or 83% of evaluated hospitals rated A on patient safety.

Ratings of hospitals and doctors by outside organizations are increasingly being used by employers and insurers to decide whether a medical provider should be included in a particular health network.

The complete ratings compiled by the group are available on the Internet at: http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org.