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St. Vincent's awarded an A score

By St. Vincent’s Medical Center

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Washington, DC - St. Vincent’s Medical Center was honored with an “A” Hospital Safety ScoreSM by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The Hospital Safety ScoreSM was calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections. U.S. hospitals were assigned an A, B, C, D, or F for their safety.

“We are absolutely elated about our score on this survey and feel it reflects the culture of safety and high reliability at St. Vincent’s,” said Lawrence Schek, MD, FACC, who is chief medical officer, senior vice president and chairman of cardiovascular services at St. Vincent’s. “All staff members here are really empowered to be advocates for patients and patient safety.”

“It’s The Leapfrog Group’s goal to give patients the information they need and deserve before even entering a hospital,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “We congratulate the hospitals that earned an ‘A’ and we look forward to the day when all hospitals in the U.S. will earn the highest scores for putting patient safety first.”

St. Vincent’s was among only four hospitals out of 29 in Connecticut, representing 14% of institutions surveyed, to receive an “A.” Nationwide, of 2,652 hospitals scored, only 729 received an “A”, while 679 earned a “B,” and 1243 earned a “C” or below.

St. Vincent’s has transformed its practices over the last several years through a focus on patient safety, and has mandated a “high reliability” safety training program for every employee regardless of position.

To see St. Vincent’s scores as they compare nationally and locally, visit www.hospitalsafetyscore.org, the Hospital Safety ScoreSM website, which also provides information on how the public can protect themselves and loved ones during a hospital stay.

The Hospital Safety Score uses 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single score representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from infections, complications, falls and injuries and medical and medication errors. Measures also included adherence to safety practices such as proper staffing levels and hand-washing, prompt removal of catheters to minimize risk of infection, and using computer-entered records to avoid penmanship errors.

The measures were calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s nine-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel which included nine patient safety experts: John Birkmeyer (University of Michigan), Ashish Jha (Harvard University), Lucian Leape (Harvard University), Arnold Millstein (Stanford University), Peter Pronovost (Johns Hopkins University), Patrick Romano (University of California, Davis), Sara Singer (Harvard University), Tim Vogus (Vanderbilt University), and Robert Wachter (University of California, San Francisco).

The goal of the survey is to provide consumers the opportunity to compare hospital performance and outcomes so they can make informed healthcare choices, and to motivate hospitals to focus on patient safety.

How St. Vincent’s Created a Culture of Safety

St. Vincent’s score is a direct result of its efforts to create a culture of “high reliability” through the launching of a safety program in 2010. Following the lead of its parent company, Ascension Health, St. Vincent’s borrowed the concept of high reliability from industries such as nuclear power, airline and naval aviation, learned about how these industries improved reliability and safety, and translated these processes to the healthcare setting.

St. Vincent’s trained all its physicians and associates throughout the system, even those not in clinical or caregiver roles, in behaviors and practices that reduce errors and improve safety, and empowered staff to speak up if they see something that has the potential to be unsafe regardless of the situation. The Medical Center also began conducting daily “safety huddles” or brief meetings at the start of the day for all managers to quickly identify and correct safety issues. Through these techniques and other error prevention tools, St. Vincent’s made safety its highest priority.

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