Published by Michael L. Diamond in the Courier Post.
South Jersey hospitals operated by Inspira Health Network, Kennedy Health and Virtua Health earned A grades from a health care advocacy group.
And Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden earned a B rating, its second in a row, from the Leapfrog Group in a study made public Wednesday.
After earning top scores in the last two rankings, AtlantiCare’s hospitals in Atlantic City and Pomona slipped to their first C grades. Mary Beth Kelly, AtlantiCare’s public safety officer, attributed the lower grade to an error by Leapfrog that will be corrected in the next report.
“The discrepancy is in the ICU staffing sub-score,” Kelly noted. “Our actual score is 85, and Leapfrog has incorrectly recorded the score as 5. We realized the discrepancy and called it to Leapfrog’s attention after Leapfrog’s requested corrections date of March 10.”
Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County in Willingboro and Cooper University Health Care in Camden maintained their C grades, Cooper’s third in a row.
Cooper officials released a statement on the grades, noting Leapfrog used data that is nearly two years old and “doesn’t specifically address the complexity of care provided at a Level I trauma center and academic tertiary care hospital such as Cooper.”
New Jersey’s other Level I trauma centers – Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and University Hospital in Newark – earned B and D grades respectively.
“The overall grade gives you a chance to see there is a variance in hospital to hospital and it can make a difference in outcomes,” said Patricia Kelmar, senior policy adviser with New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute, an advocacy group that partners with the Leapfrog Group.
The Leapfrog Group, a coalition of big employers and other health care purchasers, uses 30 metrics ranging from the number of hospital-acquired infections to the adoption of best safety practices, to produce letter grades.
Its goal is to prod hospitals to cut down on what it sees as preventable errors that lead to higher costs. And it comes as hospital administrators say the relatively newfound focus on quality is unlikely to change no matter what happens to the Affordable Care Act, the controversial health care reforms enacted under the Obama administration.
New Jersey’s 68 hospitals appear to be making inroads. Nearly 40 percent of them received A’s in the latest Leapfrog Group report, ranking 15th nationwide. Last fall, New Jersey hospitals ranked 17th.
New Jersey Hospital Association officials said the findings validate some of the steps their members have taken since Obamacare went into effect in 2010.
The trade group focused on safety measures in 13 categories, including patient falls; urinary tract infections; and the readmission of patients within 30 days of being discharged. And the New Jersey hospitals managed to avert more than 77,000 cases of patient harm, saving $641 million between 2012 and 2016, according to a recent report.
“Every year it gets better and stronger,” said Aline Holmes, senior vice president of clinical affairs for the New Jersey Hospital Association. “But they’re really looking at reducing adverse events and (improving) quality of care.”