Most of Dallas major hospitals look pretty good in the Hospital Safety Score Survey released this week by the Leapfrog Group, a patient safety watchdog organization. Methodist Charlton Medical Center, Methodist Dallas Medical Center, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and UT Southwestern University Hospital all got A's on their report cards. Parkland got a B. Baylor University Medical Center did not fare as well as, getting a C from Leapfrog. Patients at the average C-graded hospital face a 35 percent higher risk of avoidable death than those in A-graded hospitals.
"We have been issuing the hospital safety score for four years. What we wanted to do in creating the safety score was to educate people about the problems of patient safety. There are upwards of 400,000 people dying every year due to medical errors in the U.S. It's the third-leading cause of death, behind only cancer and heart disease," Leapfrog Group's Erica Mobley says. "It's a really big problem and there are really big variations in how hospitals are doing at protecting patients from some of these errors."
The study rewards hospitals that prevent their patients from acquiring new infections after being admitted and don't do things like leaving foreign objects inside patients after surgeries. Practices used to prevent errors and decrease patient safety issues are also measured. Baylor Dallas' stats feature problems across the board.
The hospital does a below average job preventing staph, C. diff, blood, urinary tract and post-surgical colon infections in patients, the report claims. For every 1,000 patients at the hospital who developed serious but treatable complications following surgery like pneumonia or kidney function loss, the study reports that almost 148 died, more than the death rate of 118 at the average surveyed hospital. Baylor also scored poorly on its hand-washing policy and preventing bed sores and patient falls.
Baylor's low score doesn't mean people should stay away, Mobley says, just that they should be cautious.
"We never say that people should stay away from a hospital, but it does mean that people should be extra vigilant when they go to [low-scoring] hospitals, know that, in the past they have definitely had some missteps when it comes to patient safety," she says.
Update 9:56 a.m.: Baylor gave us a statement this morning:
Hospital Acquired Infections (HAI) are a top priority for Baylor Scott & White Health (BSWH) which includes Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas (BUMC). We are dedicated and proactive in our continuous effort to improve patient outcomes. The Quality and Patient Safety departments at BUMC are constantly working on improvement strategies for hospital acquired infections. As a major academic hospital in an urban setting, BUMC routinely admits very complex patients with multiple conditions. Regardless, we believe improvement opportunities exist and we take this work very seriously.
Since the time the Leapfrog Group collected this data, there have been multiple infection control efforts within Baylor University Medical Center to improve quality and patient safety. We have developed multi-disciplinary committees that focus on strategies and tactics to improve patient outcomes in these key areas. Recently, our efforts have been focused on antibiotic stewardship to reduce antibiotic resistant organisms. These measures have resulted in a steady decrease of hospital acquired infections at our facilities that is not reflected in the current Leapfrog data.
Baylor University Medical Center remains committed to constantly evaluating data, being transparent and improving care for the patients that we serve.