Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center combined

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and Forsyth Medical Center.

Forsyth Medical Center received a higher grade while Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center remained unchanged in the latest report on a key measuring stick of patient safety.

The Leapfrog Group discloses grades twice a year for more than 2,600 hospitals nationally. Leapfrog is a national not-for-profit organization founded by larger employers and private health care purchasers.

In the 2019 report, released Wednesday, Forsyth improved to an A after being a B in four consecutive reports.

Meanwhile, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center stayed at C for the fourth consecutive report. High Point Medical Center, which Wake Forest Baptist acquired Sept. 5, went from an A to a B.

Moses Cone Hospital of Greensboro dropped to a B after being graded at A the previous two reports. Wesley Long was at A for the 10th consecutive time.

Wilkes Medical Center, which Wake Forest Baptist acquired in July 2017, dropped from a C to a D — the lone Triad hospital with that low a grade.

Leapfrog began issuing safety scores in spring 2012. Its overall and individual category grades can reflect multiple years of review.

Researchers use publicly available data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Leapfrog hospital survey, and secondary data sources to produce a composite score.

Medical Park Hospital was graded at A for the seventh consecutive report. Kernersville Medical Center received an A grade for the second consecutive report. Clemmons and Davie medical centers were not reviewed.

28 measurements

Leapfrog reviews 28 measures of patient safety, including such areas as error prevention, infections and medication mix-ups. The grade includes five measures of patient-reported experience with the hospital, as well as two of the most common infections — C. diff and MRSA.

Leapfrog researchers said they have determined that when compared with an A hospital, patients at a B hospital on average face a 35% greater risk of avoidable death, as well as an 88% greater risk at a C hospital and a 92% greater risk at a D and F hospital.

“The good news is that tens of thousands of lives have been saved because of progress on patient safety,” Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“The bad news is that there’s still a lot of needless death and harm in American hospitals.

“Hospitals don’t all have the same track record, so it really matters which hospital people choose, which is the purpose of our hospital safety grade.”

Local scores

Forsyth performed above the national average in 17 measures, average in two measures and below average in nine measures.

Forsyth had: three below, one above and one average grades among the five infection measures; three above, three below and one average for the seven surgical measures; five above and one below average for the six practices to prevent errors measures; three above and one below for the four safety-problems measures; and five above and one below average for the six measures of how doctors, nurses and hospital staff are evaluated.

“We have reduced our hospital-associated infection rates to historic lows and remain vigilant to providing safe, quality care to our patients,” said Dr. Eric Eskioglu, chief medical officer for Novant.

Of Novant’s 12 hospitals that were reviewed, nine received an A and three a B.

“Patient safety and quality is our top priority, and we continue to pivot toward new strategies and technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to improve quality and safety,” Eskioglu said.

Wake Forest Baptist performed above the national average in 16 measures and below average in 12 measures.

The center had: three below and two above-average grades among the five infection measures; five above and two below average for the seven surgical measures; four above and two below average for the six practices to prevent errors measures; two above and below average for the four safety-problems measures; and three above and below average for the six measures of how doctors, nurses and hospital staff are evaluated.

“While surveys, such as Leapfrog, are helpful in showing how hospitals can continue to improve overall patient care, the criteria, time frames and calculations for these ratings are very complex and highly variable, which can make it difficult for patients to use the information in an accurate and meaningful way,” said Dr. Erik Summers, Wake Forest Baptist’s chief medical officer.

Wake Forest Baptist officials have said they prefer to be compared primarily with other academic medical centers. Duke University Hospital received an A for the 13th time in the last 14 reports, while UNC Hospitals was ranked A for the sixth consecutive period.

rcraver@wsjournal.com 336-727-7376 @rcraverWSJ

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