Mission Hospital in Asheville received an “A” grade in the latest national rating of hospitals for its performance in preventing medical errors and harms to patients, in what its chief medical officer called “a tribute and credit to all the people on this team who have been working so hard through all the challenges we’ve faced during the pandemic.”
And for the eighth straight time, AdventHealth Hendersonville also received an “A” grade from the Leapfrog Group, an independent, nonprofit organization that measures patient safety and assigns a letter grade to hospitals based on how well they prevent medical errors, accidents, injuries, and infections that kill or harm patients.
But Pardee Memorial Hospital in Hendersonville slipped to a “B” rating in the Leapfrog Fall 2021 ratings, which were announced today. Pardee had scored “A” the previous three gradings.
Also receiving “B” grades in the Fall 2021 period, released Nov. 10, were Haywood Regional Medical Center in Clyde, Mission Hospital McDowell in Marion, Rutherford Regional Medical Center in Rutherfordton, and Harris Regional Hospital in Sylva.
Nationwide, 32 percent of all hospitals reviewed by Leapfrog received “A” grades, and 26 percent got “B” grades. And among all states, North Carolina ranked No. 2 nationally for the highest percentage of “A” hospitals.
Mission Health, owned by HCA Healthcare of Nashville, is by far the biggest hospital in Western North Carolina and the region’s only Level II trauma center. It was downgraded to a “B” in the Spring 2021 Leapfrog safety ratings before rebounding in the current period. Grades are updated twice yearly.
“Compassionate care and safety are our highest priorities at Mission Hospital and I am incredibly proud of our team and their commitment to the patients we are privileged to care for,” Chad Patrick, CEO, Mission Hospital, said in a prepared statement. “The entire team’s dedication to the highest level of care for our patients — especially during the challenges of a pandemic — is proven with this safety grade A from Leapfrog.”
The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades surveyed 2,901 hospitals nationwide and assigned them point scores on more than 30 categories, including infections, surgical problems, safety problems, practices to prevent errors, and medical staff.
Jay Kirby, chief executive of Pardee, asked to comment on his hospital’s downgrade, told The Watchdog: “Our focus is, and always will be, to provide exceptional care to our patients. A rating score from Leapfrog in no way diminishes our commitment to safety across our organization. Nor does it take away from the very hard work and determination exhibited by our team throughout this past year and the six-month review period for this particular rating. “
“I am very proud of the work we’ve accomplished, the lives we have saved, and the deaths prevented as a result of our efforts,” Kirby said.
Dr. William Hathaway, Mission’s chief medical officer, told Asheville Watchdog that the hospital’s success in the latest scoring came in part from improved information management. In particular, he cited Patient Safety Indicator 90, a composite measure that tracks patient safety (or “avoidance of harm”) during the delivery of health care.
Mission Hospital received an “above average” positive score for having “enough qualified nurses” to care for patients. The hospital has been criticized repeatedly by National Nurses United, the labor union representing registered nurses at Mission, for what the union calls unsafe levels of staffing.
Mission was scored “below average” for “communication with doctors,” “communication with nurses,” and “responsiveness of hospital staff.” — Peter Lewis