Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center combined (copy)

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (left) received a C grade in the latest study by The Leapfrog Group, and Forsyth Medical Center received a B.

Grades given in a semiannual study show Forsyth County’s main hospitals neither improving nor declining on a key measuring stick of patient safety.

The study was released Thursday by The Leapfrog Group, a national not-for-profit organization founded by larger employers and private health-care purchasers.

Forsyth Medical Center, operated by Novant Health Inc., received a B grade for the fourth consecutive report, while Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center stayed at C for the third straight report.

Moses Cone Hospital of Greensboro received an A grade for the second consecutive report, while Wesley Long was at A for the ninth consecutive time.

“Falls, medical errors and complications shouldn’t be part of a hospital stay,” Dr. Bruce Swords, Cone’s chief physician executive, said in a statement. “Recognitions like this one show that exceptional care, and exceptionally safe care, go hand in hand at Cone Health.”

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 for about 2,600 participating hospitals.

Medical Park Hospital, operated by Novant, was graded at A for the sixth consecutive report. Kernersville Medical Center, also operated by Novant, rose from a B to an A.

High Point Regional, which Wake Forest Baptist acquired in September, was unchanged at an A.

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.

Forsyth performed above the national average in six measures, average in two measures and below average in 10 measures.

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

“We are excited that The Leapfrog Group has recognized our unwavering commitment to quality and safety by assigning most of our facilities an A or B grade,” Dr. Eric Eskioglu, Novant’s chief medical officer, said Thursday in a statement.

“Patient safety and quality is our top priority, and we continue to implement new strategies and technologies to improve quality and safety. Because of that commitment, we have reduced our hospital-acquired infection rates to historic lows and remain vigilant to providing safe, quality care to our patients.”

Wake Forest Baptist performed above the national average in 12 measures, average in one measure and below average in 15 measures.

Wake Forest Baptist had: a below-average grade in three of the five infection measures; above average in five of the seven surgical measures; below average in four of the six practices to prevent errors measures; below average in three of the four safety-problems measures; and below average in three of the six measures of how doctors, nurses and hospital staff are evaluated.

Dr. Russell Howerton, chief medical officer for Wake Forest Baptist and affiliates, said Thursday that “our culture of safety promotes transparency and encourages us to use various ratings, such as Leapfrog, to show us our areas of strength and assess areas for improvement.”

“We are committed to ensuring the safety of our patients — many of whom come to us with very serious and challenging medical conditions — and to improving the health of our communities.”

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 12th time in the last 13 reports, while UNC Hospitals was ranked A for the fifth consecutive period.

“Health care was an important issue in the 2018 mid-term elections, yet both parties are still neglecting the third-leading cause of death in America — errors and infections in hospitals,” Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s president and chief executive, said in a statement.

“Every elected official, from city councilors to senators to the president, should hold hospitals accountable and support efforts to improve patient safety.”

Leapfrog included for the first time an assessment of hospital use of Bar Code Medication Administration, which helps reduce the risk of giving the wrong medication to a patient at the bedside.

“With medication errors accounting for the most common errors made in hospitals, and harm from these mistakes affecting as many as one in four patients, measures like BCMA indicate whether hospitals are establishing systems known to help their staff avoid such problems,” Leapfrog said.

Officials with the N.C. Hospital Association have cautioned that a simple grading system for hospitals’ safety ignores many of the factors involved in patient care.

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

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