Caldwell Memorial scores "C" by hospital survey

CMH head says survey misleading
Oct. 25, 2013 @ 08:13 AM

Caldwell Memorial Hospital received an overall C grade for providing safe health care for its patients, in a health industry group's survey released Wednesday.

The grade dropped from a B for the spring of 2013 and fall of 2012. The hospital received a C in the spring of 2012.

Valdese Hospital received an overall A rating, as did Catawba Valley Medical Center, Grace Hospital and Wilkes Regional Medical Center. Frye Regional Medical Center in Hickory had an overall B rating, and Watauga Medical Center received a C. Farther away, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem dropped to a C from an A rating.

The findings were published by the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, which conducts its surveys of hospital performance twice each year. Its grades on more than 1,300 hospitals are based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services as well as other sources, and a survey that Leapfrog sends to hospital. The survey is intended to measure progress in improving the safety, quality and efficiency of health care.

CMH President and CEO Laura Easton disagreed with the methodology used in the survey.

"I am disappointed with the manner in which The Leapfrog Group applied a grade to our efforts," Easton said. “We are 100 percent committed to quality of care at CMH, and for that reason we decided to actively participate in the Leapfrog survey. We engage in all opportunities to better standards of care for our patients and in health care overall."

Easton said the low marks given the hospital in some areas are misleading.

"In Leapfrog’s scoring method, there were several non-patient-care-related areas for which we were 'scored down,'" Easton said.

For instance, the survey's rating of how successful a hospital is in preventing medication errors is affected by a survey question asking whether doctors enter their orders into a computer themselves. At CMH, doctors currently write their orders in pen, Easton saidf.

"We are in the process of changing to a computer entry by the physician over the next six months. But I believe it is misleading to suggest that for this reason we are (judged) not successful in preventing medication errors and that our quality of care is a lower grade," she said.

Similarly, the survey asks whether doctors certified to provide critical care work exclusively with intensive-care patients during their shifts, but because of the size of CMH those doctors work in both intensive care and the medical surgical unit, she said. That resulted in CMH being rated as not having appropriate ICU staffing.

At the same time, the Leapfrog survey scored CMH high when it comes to actual care and prevention of harmful hospital-acquired conditions, such as urinary tract infections due to catheterization, blood infections and skin breakdown.

"We have had zero incidences in the past 12 months of these types of patient care results," she said. "We remain 100 percent committed to quality of care at CMH and transparency of data. We will continue to participate in any endeavor that will challenge us to higher levels of performance for our patients.”