People come to hospitals for care at their most vulnerable moments. They literally put their lives in the hands of health care institutions — the emergency department physicians or the ICU nurses or the operating room surgeons.
For years patients made decisions about where to seek treatment without any real information about whether one hospital was better than another. That would be fine if all hospitals were the same. But we know that’s not the case.
Every day more than 1000 people in American hospitals will die because of a preventable hospital error. Every day. A Medicare patient has a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing injury, harm or death when admitted to a hospital.
Today we have the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Survey to help consumers find the best hospitals. The survey uses hospital-reported data to examine quality measures and then award hospitals a simple letter grade, from A through F.
At the Quality Institute, we’re proud that just over 90 percent of the targeted hospitals in New Jersey participated in the 2015 survey, giving us among the highest participation rates in the nation. And New Jersey ranked 5th when it came to the highest percentage of A-scoring hospitals in both the spring and the fall of last year.
I have spoken to hospital executives who have told me they use the survey as a tool to evaluate their hospital practices and to continually find ways to improve quality and safety. Transparency and data help consumers find the best hospitals and also drive improvements throughout the industry.
The Leapfrog survey shows that we still have a considerable range of quality in the state when it comes to certain measures. Take early elective deliveries, which are scheduled cesarean sections or medical inductions performed prior to 39 weeks of gestation without any medical necessity.
We see some very good data in north Jersey at Clara Maass Medical Center (with a rate of 0%), Holy Name Medical Center (with a rate of 0%), and Hackensack University Medical Center (with a rate of 3.6%). And then we see another hospital, in the same region, Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center, with a rate of 72%.
Babies born before 39 weeks may have an increased risk of short-term and long-term health problems, including problems that can have lasting effects. These early elective procedures should not be done if there is no medical reason. Leapfrog’s focus on early elective deliveries helped drive down the rate and also provides women with objective data to find the outliers.
We cannot get important information like this if hospitals do not participate in the Leapfrog survey. I am proud that New Jersey has among the highest percentage of hospitals submitting data to the Leapfrog survey, but our responsibility is for all New Jersey health consumers. Ninety percent is not good enough. We believe that every hospital in our state should submit safety data.
There are four hospitals that have not committed to participate in this important survey:
- East Orange General Hospital
- Saint Michael’s Medical Center
- Memorial Hospital of Salem County
- St. Luke’s Warren Hospital
Representatives from Atlanticare Regional Medical Center – City Campus and Atlanticare Regional Medical Center – Mainland Campus committed to participate in the Leapfrog survey after the merger with Geisinger Health System. We welcome their participation this year.
I also know that East Orange General Hospital was just purchased by Prospect Medical Holdings, Inc. I urge Prospect to show its commitment to the people the hospital serves by participating in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey.
Memorial Hospital of Salem County and Saint Michael’s Medical Center are in the process of being purchased by Prime Healthcare Services. Prime acquired St. Clare’s Health System in 2015 and St. Clare’s has shown real commitment to Leapfrog. I am optimistic that Prime’s ownership of Salem and Saint Michael’s will prompt these hospitals to also participate in the survey.
Talk of quality and metrics should not mask what the Leapfrog survey is all about. It’s about examining the chances that a hospitalized patient will contract a serious infection, or receive the wrong medication, or have a stroke because of an air or gas bubble in an intravenous line.
It’s about saving lives.
At the Quality Institute, promoting transparency about patient safety data goes to the very core of our mission. We congratulate the hospitals that participate in Leapfrog and encourage those that don’t to make a commitment to safety and transparency. New Jersey can — and should — have 100 percent participation in the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Survey.