Spectrum touts ‘A’ safety rating

Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital is pictured Friday. The hospital was recently awarded an “A” grade in patient safety by the national nonprofit organization Leapfrog Group. (Pioneer photo/Tim Rath)

BIG RAPIDS — Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital is back on the “A” team with regard to patient safety.

Spectrum announced this week it was awarded an “A” grade on the spring 2019 Leapfrog Hospital Safety grading system, which is put together by the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit organization Leapfrog Group. The latest score is an improvement over its marks in spring and fall 2018, which were a “C” and a “B,” respectively.

“We are pleased to receive the highest-grade level of recognition from The Leapfrog Group with the top score on patient safety for this reporting period,” Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals President Andrea Leslie stated in a press release. “Our physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses and all other clinical and non-clinical staff have earned this achievement through their continuous focus on quality of care, prevention of errors and meticulous attention to patient safety. I’m proud of our employees for the work they do every day to care for our communities.”

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year, measuring their performance in preventing medical errors, injuries, accidents, infections and other harms to patients in their care.

Founded in 2000 by large employers and other health care purchasers, the Leapfrog Group seeks to “make giant ‘leaps’ forward in the safety, quality and affordability of health care in the U.S. by promoting transparency through our data collection and public reporting initiatives,” its website states.

The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey collects and transparently reports hospital performance. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Leapfrog’s other main initiative, assigns letter grades, “A” through “F,” to hospitals based on their record of patient safety, helping consumers protect themselves and their families.

“We are certainly very proud of this letter grade and work very hard to ensure we provide the highest quality, evidence based care to all our patients. This recognition validates that we are on the right path,” Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals chief nursing officer Caroline Ring said.

After years of consistent “A” grades, last year’s marks were lower than expected, said Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals manager of quality, safety and experience Amanda Knuth. That spurred action on the part of the hospitals, with a special focus on Leapfrog’s measures.

One way in which the hospital changed was by auditing hand-washing, Knuth said. Staffers will actually watch others while going about their day to ensure proper hand-washing technique is being utilized and take notes. Those notes are forwarded to the hospital’s board of directors, who use the data to make decisions regarding patient safety.

“If we don’t have the data, we don’t know how we’re doing. Patient safety is of the utmost importance here,” Knuth said.

The hand-washing audit joined other standard measures Spectrum uses to ensure patient safety. Everyone in a hospital bed is assessed for their risk of falling down, which goes into a computer system that flags nurses if the score is high enough, Knuth said. That way, staffers can make sure the most vulnerable patients have everything they need to stay upright when moving around.

Another Spectrum practice is the patient safety coach program, in which staffers at individual departments throughout the hospital volunteer to advocate for protection and security.

“They meet someone from my team once a month and they go through some of the things they’re experiencing in their department. They start ’rounding’ in their department, which allows them to easily see what needs to happen in their department to be safe,” Knuth said. “It’s an amazing program — to have people helping their colleagues out is huge.”

Next week, staffers will celebrate by handing out “A”-shaped cookies throughout the hospital, and a publicity drive is ongoing, in order to get the good news out.

It’s a well-deserved pat on the back for a crew that has worked hard to improve, Knuth said.

“When a patient walks in these doors, they trust that we are going to take the very best care of them. That’s what hospitals are supposed to do,” Knuth said. “Safety, to me, means that when you come to the hospital, you’re supposed to improve — not the opposite. We want you to leave here better than when you came in.”

avatar

Posted by Tim Rath

Tim is the Pioneer's associate editor. He also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Veterans pages. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at trath@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply