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DeKalb Medical Hospitals Receive Above Average Grades in Patient Safety

June 13, 2012

(Atlanta, GA) DeKalb Medical at Hillandale received a grade of "A" and DeKalb Medical at North Decatur a grade of "B" in the first annual Hospital Safety Score, released by The Leapfrog Group, a national initiative run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits, who are "working to initiate breakthrough improvements in safety, quality and affordability of health care for Americans."

The Hospital Safety Score was determined by the hospital’s performance on 26 measures of publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections and the hospital’s responses to Leapfrog’s voluntary survey. The organization rated 2,651 U.S. hospitals on an "A, B, C, D, or F" scale. The majority of metro Atlanta hospitals received a "C."

Patient Safety in hospitals became a major public concern after the 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine found that 98,000 deaths in hospitals were due to preventable medical errors. Since that time, hospitals and physicians began focusing on ways to prevent medical errors and prevention of medical errors was a focus when DeKalb Medical at Hillandale opened in 2005. As Georgia’s first all digital-planned hospital, the hospital opened with advanced technology that supports safer care, including computerized physician order entry (CPOE). CPOE requires doctors’ orders to be entered electronically, preventing errors due to illegible handwriting. All three of DeKalb Medical’s hospitals were early adopters of this technology.

The safety measurements the Hospital Safety Score considers represent the very basic blocks of medical care, such as hand-washing, computerized medication control and nurse staffing levels. DeKalb Medical is pleased to know it received passing grades, but maintains its mission to earn our patients’ trust every day through our uncompromising commitment to quality.

According to DeKalb Medical CEO John Shelton, the scores are good, but ensuring that patients have a safe hospital experience is a rigorous and ongoing effort.

"We’re pleased to be among the top performers in Atlanta," Shelton said, "But patient safety is not something you check off your management list. We are constantly working to improve and make sure we do everything we can to prevent unintentional harm to our patients."

"We were early adopters of computerized physician order entry (CPOE), which helps us avoid errors due to illegible handwriting and moves us to a safer, more standardized environment. We have recently implemented another Leapfrog Group imperative, an intensivist program, which provides physicians specially trained in intensive care medicine in the Intensive Care Unit supplementing the skills of other admitting physicians."

Leapfrog Executive Director Leah Binder said that until now no organization has awarded individual safety scores to most U.S. hospitals and included institutions that performed poorly.

Based on hospitals' scores, Leapfrog awarded:

  • An "A" to 729 hospitals;
  • A "B" to 679 hospitals;
  • A "C" to 1,111 hospitals; and
  • A "grade pending" to 132 hospitals.

The full list: How each hospital fares on patient safety.

Calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s nine-member Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, the Hospital Safety Score uses 26 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to produce a single score representing a hospital’s overall capacity to keep patients safe from infections, injuries, and medical and medication errors. The panel includes: John Birkmeyer (University of Michigan), Ashish Jha (Harvard University), Lucian Leape (Harvard University), Arnold Millstein (Stanford University), Peter Pronovost (Johns Hopkins University), Patrick Romano (University of California, Davis), Sara Singer (Harvard University), Tim Vogus (Vanderbilt University), and Robert Wachter (University of California, San Francisco).

About The Leapfrog Group

The Leapfrog Group  is a national organization using the collective leverage of large purchasers of health care to initiate breakthrough improvements in the safety, quality, and affordability of health care for Americans. The flagship Leapfrog Hospital Survey allows purchasers to structure their contracts and purchasing to reward the highest performing hospitals. The Leapfrog Group was founded in November 2000 with support from the Business Roundtable and national funders, and is now independently operated with support from its purchaser and other members.

About DeKalb Medical

With more than 800 doctors skilled in 55 medical specialties, DeKalb Medical combines cutting-edge technology with compassion to effectively diagnose and treat our patients. A leader in cancer, heart attack treatment and orthopedics, the DeKalb Medical system has been growing with Metro Atlanta’s medical needs for 50 years.

The 627-bed not-for-profit health system includes DeKalb Medical at North Decatur (451 beds), DeKalb Medical Long Term Acute Care at Downtown Decatur (76 beds), DeKalb Medical at Hillandale (100 beds) and the DeKalb Medical Physicians Group. Committed to pushing beyond to excel in patient satisfaction and service, our quality is reflected in many clinical excellence awards throughout our three-hospital system including recently ranking in the Top 5% in the Nation for Overall Orthopedic Services by HealthGrades® (2011).

Media Contact: Nick West, nick.west@dekalbmedical.org, 404.501.5259 .

2701 North Decatur Road Decatur, GA 30033
Patient Inquiries: 404.501.5200

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