By Polly Keary, Editor
A national hospital rating organization that last week named Valley General Hospital one of the 25 worst hospitals in the nation was acting on misleading data, said hospital officials last week.
The Leapfrog Group, which each year surveys hospitals and issues safety grades, gave Valley General Hospital an F for patient safety, one of 25 hospitals nationwide to fare so poorly.
But Michael Fraser, interim CEO of VGH, said that Leapfrog’s grade is misleading.
Valley General Hospital is one of a very few hospitals of its size in the nation to have a unit for Alzheimer’s and geriatric care. Because the law prevents restraints that could prevent falls but that curtail quality of life and sometimes safety, patients occasionally fall. And also, the skin of the elderly is fragile and prone to bed sores.
Falls and bed sores are among the things Leapfrog considers when tabulating data.
“They included information from our geriatric and psychiatric unit that treats Alzheimer’s and dementia, who are prone to falls and developing bed sores, and we’ve had a limited number of each of those that greatly distorted our statistics as a community hospital,” Fraser said. “We haven’t had sores and falls with our medical treatment.”
Leapfrog gave VGH a B last year.
And EvergreenHealth, which is now affiliated with VGH, got an A this year, noted Evergreen CEO Mark Firmani.
Half the hospitals in the United States don’t respond to Leapfrog’s annual survey, leaving the organization to seek out data in other ways, too, noted Fraser.
And several large medical groups have criticized Leapfrog for poor data analysis that leads to skewed results.
The American Hospital Association in a recent article alleged that Leapfrog is biased to hospitals that take the surveys, that it uses unreliable measures and that there are significant errors in Leapfrog’s data, all claims that Leapfrog disputes.
Other hospitals argue that Leapfrog uses data that is sometimes several years old.
Firmani said that Evergreen will still respond to Leapfrog’s surveys, but that they will be more proactive in presenting information so that Leapfrog can get a more accurate picture.
“I think we will continue to participate, but we’ll be more assertive in the data,” he said. “We learned about what happens when you mix data.”