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Safety grades showed South Carolina hospitals have made strides since last being evaluated in the fall.
But the improvement has mostly occurred outside the Midlands, where only one hospital improved its grade from the last rankings. Additionally, just one Columbia or Lexington-area hospital received an A grade for safety scores in a biannual ranking by Leapfrog, an organization that aims for transparency in the U.S. health system,
Since 2012, the Leapfrog Group has published Hospital Safety Scores twice a year; once in the spring and once during the fall. The rating is focused on “errors, accidents, injuries and infections.”
Based on this criteria, only Lexington Medical Center was awarded an A, the highest score among area hospitals graded by Leapfrog.
▪ Lexington Medical Center, repeated its score from the fall ranking of A
Other Columbia-Lexington-area hospitals received one B and three Cs for the spring. Those include:
▪ Providence Health, improved its grade from C in the fall to B
▪ Palmetto Health Baptist Medical Center Columbia, repeated its score from the fall ranking of C
▪ Palmetto Health Baptist Parkridge repeated its score from the fall ranking of C
▪ Palmetto Health Richland repeated its score from the fall ranking of C
No other hospitals in the Midlands received an A score, while one that had an A grade in the spring dropped.
▪ Newberry County Memorial Hospital repeated its score from the fall ranking of B
▪ Kershaw Health Medical Center repeated its score from the fall ranking of C
▪ Palmetto Health Tuomey repeated its score from the fall ranking of B
Overall in South Carolina, of the 45 hospitals that were ranked, 18 received a letter A, up from 14 in the fall. Two received a D, Baptist Easley Hospital and the Regional Medical Center of Orangeburg and Calhoun Counties, which was the only hospital that was graded an F last fall. There were no SC hospitals with an F in the spring grades.
The Pee Dee region received the best safety grades in the fall report. Although there are significantly fewer hospitals there, both McLeod Regional Medical Center of the Pee Dee and the Medical University of South Carolina University — Florence Medical Center received A grades in the report.
Like the Midlands, larger regions like the Lowcountry, Grand Strand and Upstate had mixed results. Among them, Upstate hospitals were cumulatively rated safest, with seven of 13 hospitals receiving an A. By comparison, just three of 13 Lowcountry hospitals scored an A.
Nationally, South Carolina ranked 12th among all states, with 40 percent of its hospitals scoring an A rating. That was a significant improvement from the fall when just 30.43 percent received the top score, leaving the Palmetto State ranked 26th. Oregon (58.06 percent) was the top-rated state, while there was a five-way tie for lowest grade among Alaska, Delaware, North Dakota, Wyoming and Washington D.C., as none had a hospital with an A grade.
Leapfrog graded more than 2,600 hospitals nationwide, and 32 percent earned an A, 26 percent earned a B, 36 percent a C, 6 percent a D and less than 1 percent scored an F, according to its website.
The grades are based on safety data and represent “a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors,” according to Leapfrog, which reported an estimated 160,000 people die annually because of “avoidable medical errors.” That is an improvement over the 2016 figure, when the study “estimated 205,000 avoidable deaths.”
“Leapfrog advises the public never to reject emergency treatment based on a safety score, but to consult with a doctor about the best hospital for planned, elective procedures,” the News & Observer reported.
But Leapfrog’s study shows that “patients at ‘D’ and ‘F’ hospitals face a 92 percent greater risk of avoidable death” than those at hospitals graded A.
“If all hospitals had an avoidable death rate equivalent to ‘A’ hospitals, 50,000 lives would have been saved,” the study reports.
SC HOSPITAL SAFETY GRADES