County’s 3 hospitals earn passing grades for safety

While not exactly stellar marks, the three St. Lucie County hospitals have earned passing grades from the nation’s largest hospital safety survey group.

Tradition Medical Center and St. Lucie Medical Center earned B’s, while Lawnwood Regional received a C.

But those grades should be taken with a grain of salt, according to Martin Health System’s Fernando Petry, D.O., who serves as the company’s senior vice president and chief medical officer. (Martin Health System owns Tradition Medical Center.)

Petry cautioned that the Leapfrog Group’s Safety Grade, issued in the spring and fall of each year, is based on data that’s anywhere from 18 to 24 months old. If Leapfrog were to have used data taken today, Petry said he feels Tradition would have received an A.

“We’ve had a huge focus on quality,” Petry said, not just at Tradition Medical Center, but Martin Health System-wide.

Tradition last year doubled its capacity and added more medical services. When it opened a few years ago, it opened at capacity. Petry said staff started out trying to keep up with the demand.

“It’s hard to keep your head above water,” he said.

The first grades from Leapfrog show Tradition started with a C – a grade it has had until now.

Even before the expansion, Petry said Tradition has worked to address Leapfrog’s critiques.

Still, Petry said the hospital needs to continue improving communication among hospital staff and with patients. “Those are things we need to focus on,” he said, adding that when you’ve got a full hospital, communication can sometimes slip.

Attempts to reach representatives from HCA-owned St. Lucie Medical Center and Lawnwood Regional were unsuccessful. St. Lucie’s grade fell one letter since fall 2017; Lawnwood’s remained the same.

The first grades for St. Lucie Medical Center, released in 2015, were A’s. In 2016, the grade slipped to a B, which remained a B until fall 2017, when it rose to an A again.

At the time, the hospital posted the press release from Leapfrog noting that it was one of about 830 hospitals in the nation to receive the highest marks.

Of concern in this latest grading for all three hospitals are issues pertaining to infections – particularly C.diff infections – post-surgery issues of collapsed lungs and serious breathing problems, and communications with doctors.

Each hospital has its own unique challenges as well.

Among infections and communication problems at Lawnwood, hand-washing was noted as a preventable error.

St. Lucie Medical was noted as having challenges pertaining to how it handles MRSA infections. And Tradition was cited for dangerous bed sores.

“You’re not looking at today,” Petry again cautioned about the Leapfrog findings.

He said patients considering their hospital options should do their own research and investigate the specialists and doctors who would be providing their care. Ask questions, he said, and weigh the risks and benefits.

Healthcare is more complex than many realize, he said.   

 

Tradition Medical Center

  • Owner: Martin Health Systems
  • Spring 2018 Grade: B
  • Fall 2017 Grade: C
  • Spring 2017 Grade: C
  • Fall 2016 Grade: C

Areas of Concern:

  • Infections: C. diff infection, surgical site infection
  • Surgery: Surgical wound splits open, collapsed lung, serious breathing problems, accidental cuts and tears
  • Preventing errors: Communication about medicines, communication about discharge
  • Safety problems: Dangerous bed sores
  • Staff: Communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff.

 

 

St. Lucie Medical Center

  • Owner: HCA
  • Spring 2018 Grade: B
  • Fall 2017 Grade: A
  • Spring 2017 Grade: B
  • Fall 2016 Grade: B
  • (Spring/Fall 2015 Grade: A)

Areas of Concern:

  • Infections: MRSA infection, C. diff infection
  • Surgery: Collapsed lung, serious breathing problems
  • Preventing errors: None below average
  • Safety problems: None below average
  • Staff: Specially trained doctors care of ICU patients, Communication with doctors.

 

Lawnwood Regional

  • Owner: HCA
  • Spring 2018 Grade: C
  • Fall 2017 Grade: C
  • Spring 2017 Grade: C
  • Fall 2016 Grade: C
  • (Spring/Fall 2015 Grade: A)

Areas of Concern:

  • Infections: C. diff infection, blood infection
  • Surgery: Collapsed lung, serious breathing problems, dangerous blood clot
  • Preventing errors: Hand washing, communication about medicines, communication about discharge
  • Safety problems: None below average
  • Staff: Specially trained doctors care for ICU patients, Communication with doctors, communication with nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff.

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