13 Kentucky hospitals earn A’s for patient safety. 2 Lexington hospitals decline to D’s.

More Kentucky hospitals earned A’s for patient safety, while three facilities — two in Lexington — worsened to the lowest levels, according to new data released Thursday.

The fall 2019 ratings were distributed by the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization, via The group uses infections; surgery and safety problems; error-prevention practices; and metrics on doctors, nurses and staff to determine its rankings and grades twice a year. Hospital data is obtained from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), voluntary Leapfrog surveys and other supplemental sources, the organization says.

More than 2,600 hospitals across the country were graded on 28 measures (selected by an expert panel of doctors and others) if there was enough publicly available data. The group advocates hospital transparency on medical care errors, infections and accidents.

“We are now able to pinpoint where the problems are and that allows us to grade hospitals,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of Leapfrog, said in information released on the analysis.. “Encouragingly we are seeing fewer deaths from preventable errors we monitor in our grading process.”

Thirteen Kentucky hospitals, including Baptist Health in Lexington, earned A’s. Newcomers to the fall A list were Flaget in Bardstown and Jewish Hospital-Shelbyville. The remainder earned As in the spring ranking. Some have had A’s for multiple years. Baptist Health Lexington, for instance, earned A’s in both periods in 2018.

Other A’s in the newest rankings include Clark Regional Medical Center in Winchester, Georgetown Community Hospital and Harrison Memorial Hospital in Cynthiana. Norton Hospital in Louisville and Norton’s Audubon, Brownsboro and Women’s & Children’s hospitals earned A’s. St. Elizabeth Healthcare’s Edgewood, Florence and Fort Thomas hospitals also got top grades.

Baptist Health Lexington on Nicholasville Road Charles Bertram Lexington Herald-Leader

Lexington hospitals — Saint Joseph East and Saint Joseph — were among the 10 Kentucky hospitals to earn B’s. The others were Baptist Health Paducah, Hardin Memorial Hospital in Elizabethtown, Mercy Health Lourdes in Paducah, Owensboro Health, Saint Joseph - London, T.J. Samson Community Hospital in Glasgow, TriStar Greenview Regional in Bowling Green, and Whitesburg ARH.

In contrast, seven hospitals earned D’s or F’s. Three of those — University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital and UK Good Samaritan Hospital in Lexington along with Sts. Mary & Elizabeth Hospital in Louisville — worsened from a C in the spring to a D.

In other rankings, UK does very well. For instance, UK Chandler Hospital was ranked as the No. 1 regional facility in Kentucky by U.S. News and World Report and has been for four years.

“Caring for the patients of the Commonwealth is UK HealthCare’s greatest priority,“ said Dr. Mark Newman, UK’s vice president for health affairs. “Like many academic medical centers, UK HealthCare serves a disproportionate number of patients with complex medical needs which is not accurately represented by Leapfrog. UK HealthCare works with a number of organizations such as US News & World Report and Vizient where we are a top performer, and academic medical centers are more appropriately compared providing better information for our patients and families.”

“The quality of care and safety of our patients is of utmost importance at UK HealthCare and we continue to invest in substantial resources to continually improve in these areas,” Newman said.

In the Leapfrog analysis on patient safety, UK Hospital got low marks for performing below average on surgery problems. The hospital got lower than average scores in the following categories: object left in patient’s body; surgical wound that splits open; death from serious treatable complications; collapsed lung; serious breathing problems; and dangerous blood clots.

In addition, UK Hospital got lower marks for antibiotic-resistant MRSA infection and surgical site infection after colon surgery. Dangerous bedsores and patient falls/injuries also were issues. Good Samaritan received below-average scores in many of the same areas.

In some categories, the hospitals declined to report additional information for the analysis.

The only Kentucky F went to financially troubled Jewish Hospital, which was recently bought by the University of Louisville with a $50 million loan that was pledged by state leaders, according to Associated Press. The University of Louisville Hospital earned a D in the fall patient safety rankings. It was ranked low over MRSA and C. diff infections along with infections in the urinary tract and surgical sites following colon surgery. Like UK Hospital, the University of Louisville Hospital scored low on surgery problems, bedsores and patient falls and injuries. Communication was a problem.

Other hospitals with D’s were Hazard ARH Regional Medical Center in Hazard and Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg.

In the spring, six hospitals got D’s or F’s: University of Louisville, Taylor Regional Hospital in Campbellsville; Jewish Hospital, Highlands Regional, and Hazard ARH. A failing grade went to Methodist Hospital of Henderson, which improved to a C — along with Taylor Regional —in the latest rankings.

Compared to other states, Kentucky ranked 33rd for its percentage (26 percent) of A hospitals. The five states with the highest percentages of A hospitals were Maine, Utah, Virginia, Oregon and North Carolina.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader