Every year, hospitals around the country submit information regarding their services to the Leapfrog Group, an organization that puts together results from various surveys and compiles them into a letter grade. The grades, which denote a hospital’s capacity for patient safety and competent care, can be viewed on Leapfrog’s website.
Over the past three years, Leapfrog’s grades for Samaritan have been less than ideal. The Advocate reported cumulative grades of D, D, and C for 2012, 2013, and 2014, respectively. Leapfrog’s criticisms contributing to the low grades included risks to patients generally associated with overworked nurses.
This year, Samaritan wasn’t graded by Leapfrog at all. The official reason given by Leapfrog is that Samaritan failed to respond to the annual survey. Julie Manning, Head of Marketing and Public Relations at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, said Samaritan declined to contribute due to a lack of means to participate. “We have to make decisions about the time and resources it takes,” said Manning.
Manning assured the Advocate that for 2015 Samaritan did, indeed, “participate in state and federal surveys regarding safety.” Samaritan is required by law to partake in safety reviews by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services. “You can take a look at our website,” said Manning in regards to those particular reviews.
Manning wouldn’t provide any other reason for Samaritan’s failure to report to Leapfrog. “Some [grades] are required, and some are optional,” she stated, explaining that this year, Samaritan only contributed to government-sanctioned grading. Though Samaritan is affected by economic issues, the hospital hasn’t reported any overwhelming financial problems that could prevent it from giving Leapfrog information for its review.
While it is true that Samaritan is not required to submit data to Leapfrog, it is also the case that insurers are increasingly using the group’s data in efforts to find the best care for their patients. It turns out insurers save money with better patient outcomes.
Leapfrog’s grades also appear to be easily understood by patients. However, consumers can only view the very latest letter grades on the Leapfrog website. If you aren’t a medical professional, you must pay to order archived reports of past grades. Since Samaritan’s most recent grades were so low, patients may be wary of choosing to receive care there based simply upon the fact that no bad grade currently exists.
According to Leapfrog, an overwhelming 21 out of 34 Oregon hospitals declined to report to them for the latest review. Perhaps Samaritan’s downfall in quality of care is becoming a trend across the state—a dangerous one, since 1,000 Americans die every day due to preventable hospital errors.
You can visit the Leapfrog site at www.leapfroggroup.org/ratings-
By Kiki Genoa