Health Care

Beaufort County hospitals just got graded. Here’s how they stacked up.

$100K, ‘germ-zapping’ robot at Beaufort Memorial Hospital

New $100K, 'germ-zapping' robot at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Nov. 17, 2016.
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New $100K, 'germ-zapping' robot at Beaufort Memorial Hospital. Nov. 17, 2016.

How safe Beaufort County hospitals keep you from errors, injuries and infections depends on which one you’re a patient at, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, which scores more than 2,600 hospitals every fall and spring, ranked Coastal Carolina and Beaufort Memorial hospitals among some of the best hospitals in the country in patient safety. Hilton Head Hospital trailed further behind.

The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit watchdog organization that “serves as a voice for health care purchasers” and is the nation’s “advocate of hospital transparent—collecting, analyzing and disseminating hospital data,” according to its website.

The Group’s Safety Grade report awards letter grades ranging from “A” to “F” to hospitals based on how they scored in five major categories: infections; problems with surgery; practices to prevent errors; safety problems; and doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

For the last five grading periods, fall 2015 through fall 2017, Hilton Head Hospital was rated a “C.”

Hilton Head Hospital received the lowest rating of the three for four of the six categories involving doctors, nurses and hospital staff in the recent report. The hospital was rated below-average for understaffing of specially trained doctors care for ICU patients, communication with doctors and nurses and responsiveness of hospital staff.

In the category of infections, the hospital scored among the lowest in the country in three of the five areas surveyed, including infections in the blood and urinary tract during an ICU stay and bacteria infections.

“We are not satisfied with our C grade in patient safety from The Leapfrog Group as it does not reflect our commitment to provide high-quality care in a safe environment,” Jeremy Clark, Hilton Head Regional Healthcare’s Market Chief Executive Officer, said in a press release.

“Our clinical leadership regularly reviews our hospital’s patient care processes and compares our data to nationally recognized benchmarks and best practices. Nothing is more important to us than offering our patients trusted care in a safe environment and we believe our continued focus in these areas will be reflected positively in future grade releases.,” Clark continued in the press release.

Coastal Carolina Hospital scored a “C” from spring 2014 through spring 2016, but jumped up to an “A” on the last three reports. In the category of safety problems for the fall 2017 report, the hospital scored among the best hospitals in the country in all four areas surveyed.

“Receiving our third consecutive ‘A’ grade demonstrates Coastal Carolina Hospital’s commitment to delivering safe, high-quality patient care,” Joel Taylor, CEO of Coastal Carolina Hospital, said in a press release. “This is a significant achievement and we’re tremendously proud of our medical providers and staff.”

Both Hilton Head Hospital and Coastal Carolina Hospital are owned by Tenet Healthcare.

Beaufort Memorial Hospital went through the most progress of any local hospital, according to the Leapfrog report. The hospital went from scoring a “D” in spring 2015, to receiving an “A” on the last three reports.

In the category of infections for the fall 2017 report, Beaufort Memorial Hospital scored as well as the best hospitals in the country all five areas surveyed, which was one more category than the spring report.

“Beaufort Memorial has worked diligently to maintain the highest levels of patient safety in every area of care from hospital-acquired infections to preventing adverse drug reactions,” Russell Baxley, Beaufort Memorial President and CEO, said in a press release. “Once again achieving an ‘A’ grade is a testament to the commitment our staff has shown to protecting our patients.”

South Carolina ranked 13 among the 50 states, based on the number of hospitals that earned an “A” compared to the total number of hospitals in the state. Of the 46 hospitals in the state participating in the survey, 19 received the top grade.

In Savannah, Memorial University Medical Center, Candler Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital all received a grade of “C.”

In September, Hilton Head, Coastal Carolina and Beaufort Memorial hospitals all received several Certified Zero Harm Awards at the annual South Carolina Medical Association/South Carolina Hospital Association Trustee, Administrator and Physician Conference. The awards recognize hospitals that achieve 12 consecutive months or more without certain preventable hospital-acquired infections.

Maggie Angst: 843-706-8137, @maggieangst