St. Mary’s earns an A for safety efforts

Brian Davidson
Brian Davidson
Chris Thomas
Chris Thomas

St. Mary’s Medical Center in Grand Junction has once again earned the top grade for patient safety from a health care industry watchdog group.

The regional medical center operated by SCL Health received an A from the Leapfrog Group in its fall 2018 assessment. St. Mary’s has earned As in the last three of the twice-yearly assessments and four out of the last eight assessments.

“Achieving a Leapfrog A rating lets people know where to go for the safest possible care. Achieving three A ratings in a row is extremely difficult,” said Dr. Brian Davidson, president of St. Mary’s.

Community Hospital in Grand Junction also was graded in the latest Leapfrog Group assessment based on publicly available information, although the hospital doesn’t participate, Chris Thomas, president and chief executive officer said in a memo to hospital staff.

Leapfrog Group has assigned A, B, C, D and F letter grades to general acute-care hospitals in the United States since 2012. The program takes into account 28 measures of publicly available information to produce a single grade that reflects the capacity of hospitals to keep patients safe from errors, infections and injuries.

“SCL Health St. Mary’s continued success in achieving an A rating is evidence that the organization places an emphasis on protecting patients from preventable medical errors, injuries and infections. We are inspired by St. Mary’s leadership on patient safety,” said Leah Binder, president and chief executive officer of Leapfrog Group.

Of more than 2,600 hospitals graded in the fall 2018 assessment, 32 percent earned an A, 24 percent a B, 37 percent a C, 6 percent a D and just under 1 percent an F.

The five states with the highest proportion of hospitals receiving A grades were New Jersey, Oregon, Virginia, Massachusetts and Texas.

Colorado dropped from sixth to ninth in the latest rating with nearly 41.5 percent of hospitals in the state receiving A grades. St. Mary’s was among 17 hospitals in Colorado to receive A grades.

Thomas said Community Hospital doesn’t participate in the assessments in part because the hospital would be penalized in three areas based on its electronic medical records system.

“We would receive zeros in these areas regardless of the performance of our current system,” Thomas said. “Simply put, Leapfrog is not grading us on the ability to manage our electronic medical system. Instead, they are grading us on the ability to purchase a multi-million dollar system.”

In those areas in which was scored in the latest assessment, Community Hospital fared well, Thomas said.

Moreover, Community Hospital has fared well in other assessments, he said, including those conducted by a state trauma board in granting a Level III trauma certification as well as a survey in which Grand Valley Oncology was designated an oncology center of excellence.

Davidson said he was proud with the latest Leapfrog Group grade and what he said has been the hard work and focus of the staff at St. Mary’s on patient safety.