December 1, 2012

New Report on Illinois Hospital Safety Ratings

by Levin & Perconti

Crains Chicago Business published a story recently on the progress of certain hosptials in Illinois. There are a growing number of hospital "ranking" systems and safety measures. Each has a somewhat different approach to collecting information and measuring these facilities against one another in term of patient outcomes. In general, the more data the better, as patients are well-served by having open access to important statistics about the quality of care they are likely to receive at various facilties. At the same time it is important not to get overwhelmed by the growing information. It is easy to get confused about how to read the information and determine what is most relevant.

The Crain's story discussed local hosptials ranked as part of the "Leapfrog Group" survey of facilities. Leapgroup is a non-profit group representing employers who purchase healthcare packages for their employees. According to the story, 118 Illinois facilities were ranked. Of that group, five received the lowest grade possible--an F. Four of those facilities were Chicago-area "safety net" hospitals. Two other Chicago facilities received the second-lowest grade of D. The full report outlines how all 118 facilities statewide fared in the scoring.

The facilities scoring the lowest grades in the Chicago area include: Jackson Park Hospital & Medical Center, Roseland Community Hospital, and Loretta Hosptial.

Overall, many Illinois hosptials performed reasonably well. The story notes how 51 hosptials received A ratings. Thirty three of those facilities were located in the Chicago area. This is substantial and actually represents the largest grouping of facilities with those ratings of any metropolitan region in the country.

This is not the first time that these Leapfrog ranking have been released. Compared to last year about a fifth of Illinois facilities saw their rankings improve while an equal number of facilities had declining scores. This is a reminder of the overall lack of progress that has been made on the patient safety front overall in recent years.

Patient Safety & The Law
These report cards are a great example that affects quality in all settings: accountability. We have no doubt that medical providers at all institutions work hard to provide great service. However, no matter what the intentons, experience shows unequivocally that to truly improve there must be accountability for medical errors. Ranking systems are part of that--providing persepctive for prospective patients and a reason for medical facilties to make changes to improve.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are another part of that. The sad reality is that financial pressures spur change. If medical facilities are forced to pay financially for the consequences of their errors, then it is far more likely that they will commit the time and resources necessary to ensure future mistakes are avoided. For this reason, we encouarge all those who have been hurt by inadequate care to come forward to ensure proper accountability in addition to receiving compensation for the specific losses incurred as a result of the negligence.

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