National Survey Shows Some Pittsburgh Area Hospitals are Safer than Others

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Residents of Western Pennsylvania are fortunate to have access to some of the best doctors and nurses in the nation. However, a recent national survey which measures preventable injuries and illnesses suggests several area hospitals, including two of the region’s largest, fall short of expectations when it comes to patient safety.

The Leapfrog National Safety Grade is becoming the gold-standard as the measure of patient safety at more than 2600 hospitals across the United States.  The survey was designed by medical experts from the nation’s top university hospitals and the CDC.  These experts developed a method to evaluate internal hospital safety data and determine how well each hospital meets performance measures issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  Each hospital is assigned a single letter grade reflecting how well it meets the performance measures.

The Spring 2020 survey results were released on April 30, 2020.  Nearly every hospital in the Western Pennsylvania region received an “A” or “B” grade.  Two hospitals in the region received a “C” – Ohio Valley General Hospital and Armstrong County Memorial Hospital.

Deficiencies at some of the region’s largest hospitals should make residents of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania think twice before choosing a hospital.  Allegheny General Hospital, the second largest hospital in the Pittsburgh area, received a “B” grade.  Specifically, AGH scored below average on several different measures of patient safety, including:

  • A higher number of MRSA infections than expected;
  • A higher number of urinary tract infections than expected;
  • A higher number of C. diff infections than expected;
  • A higher number of patients who die from treatable complications that develop after surgery;
  • A higher number of patients who develop dangerous blood clots during a hospitalization;
  • A below average score on the safe administration of medication; and,
  • A higher number of patients falls and injuries than expected;

The third-largest hospital in the Pittsburgh area, UPMC Shadyside, also received a “B” grade.  UPMC Shadyside scored below average on preventing every type of infection measured by the survey, specifically MRSA, urinary tract, C-Diff, blood and surgical site infections after colon surgery.

This link will take you to the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade website and the grades for 26 hospitals in the Pittsburgh region.  By clicking on the hospital, the reader can see each hospital’s full score on each of the performance measures, including infections, problems with surgery, practices to prevent errors, safety problems, appropriate staffing levels, qualifications and training of doctors and nurses, and communication among staff.

In an emergency, you may not have time to choose the hospital that can provide potentially life-saving treatment.  But when you have the option to choose, do not let convenience be your only guide.  Remember what Leapfrog states on its website – some hospitals are safer than others.  Many health care professionals and organizations strive to improve patient safety improvement in our country.  Their mission exists because there is room for improvement.  Use the Leapfrog National Safety Grade to help find the best hospital for you and your loved ones. The wrong decision can have meaningful consequences.

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