In spite of a poor report from a national hospital patient safety group, Statesboro's East Georgia Regional Medical Center officials said a recently released survey doesn't tell the whole story and the hospital makes every effort to provide quality care.
However, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Group reported that EGRMC received a grade of "D," citing concerns with issues such as infection control, communication between healthcare providers and patients, and accident prevention.
East Georgia Regional had a perfect grade in the spring of 2015, an "A." The report comes out twice yearly, in the spring and fall. In the fall of 2015, the grade had dropped to a "C" and remained at a "C" through all of 2016 and 2017, until this spring, when the grade dropped to a "D."
Hospital marketing director Erin Spillman said hospital authorities do not agree with the report's accuracy.
"East Georgia Regional Medical Center is committed to providing safe, quality care for every patient. We are disappointed by our grade in the Leapfrog update and believe it does not fully reflect the quality of care we provide," she said. "Our hospital continues to take every opportunity to further increase quality and service."
Hospital staff are attentive to detail, she said.
"Tracking quality data, daily attention to process improvement, and collaboration between our employees and the medical staff support the delivery of quality care and our improvements over time," she said.
She said the Leapfrog group "is one of several organizations reanalyzing data that is already publicly reported elsewhere, which results in different ratings on different sites. Unfortunately, the recently published Leapfrog data dates back to 2014 and 2015, therefore is not an accurate reflection of the quality of care currently provided at East Georgia Regional Medical Center."
Patients should consider a "variety of factors" when choosing a health care facility and should talk to doctors about their individual care plans and research safety and quality information for the state in which they seek care, she said.
The spring 2018 report
The Leapfrog Group's 2018 survey, which can be viewed at www.hospitalsafetygrade.org, shows a "below average" report for East Georgia Regional Medical Center regarding controlling MRSA, a highly contagious and antibiotic-resistant staph infection.
According to information from Leapfrog, MRSA — Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus — can't be killed by many antibiotics, can be found in bed linens or medical equipment, is spread by not washing hands, and causes life threatening bloodstream infections, pneumonia and surgical site infections.
Of Georgia hospitals surveyed, the best score statewide for this category was zero; the worst score was 3.642, and EGRMC scored 2.627.
C. diff (Clostridium difficile) infections can cause diarrhea, abdominal pain, loss of appetite and fever. It is difficult to treat and is spread by contaminated equipment or poor handwashing, Leapfrog said.
With an average statewide score of .0848 in the control of C. diff, EGRMC scored a bit better (.0549) in the survey, with the worst score being 1.975.
Regarding infections in blood, which can be fatal, EGRMC scored better than average at .790, with the average being .822 and the worst score being 3.406.
At 1.068, the hospital scored worse than the average of .895 for urinary tract infections, often caused by catheters. The worst score statewide was 2.961.
East Georgia scored better than average in the care of colon surgical site infections at 0.623. The average statewide score was .855, and the worst was 3.081.
EGRMC ranked lower than average regarding doctors ordering medications via computer and in communication about medications and discharge instructions.
The hospital was graded above average in the number of patient falls and in problems with surgery.
Leapfrog said the hospital did not report on hand washing, working together to prevent errors, or tracking and reducing risks, but Spillman said EGRMC did not voluntarily report anything to Leapfrog.
"Participation in the Leapfrog survey is voluntary and time intensive," she said. "East Georgia Regional Medical Center did not submit any quality or patient safety data to Leapfrog, therefore the report that was recently published shared information obtained from other publicly reported data submitted in 2014 (and) 2015 by EGRMC."
However, the hospital is "re-evaluating the need to participate in the Leapfrog survey moving forward," she said.
Out of 71 Georgia hospitals reviewed, 15 ranked "A," 19 scored "B," 28 were rated "C," and nine were graded "D."
Spillman said striving for quality is an ongoing effort at East Georgia.
Efforts to improve
Some of the steps taken in an effort to improve patient safety and quality of care include the implementation of bedside shift reports that include the patient, family members and their care team at the change of each shift; clinical hourly rounding on all patients to help improve patient safety, reduce falls, manage pain and meet patient needs in a timely manner; and improving barcode medication administration, "ensuring that we administer the right dosage of the right medication to the right patient at the right time," Spillman said.
The healthcare system's "Safety Watch" pilot program "allows our nurses to spend more time at the bedside of patients who are at a greater risk of falling," she said.
Training is also important and all staff, including medical, are trained to use certain tools to "guide us in effective, safe patient care," she said.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.