Health Care and Nonprofits

West Michigan hospitals earn an A for patient safety

April 26, 2016
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Nine West Michigan hospitals have received top marks for patient safety from a national watchdog nonprofit.

The Leapfrog Group of Washington, D.C. released its April 2016 Hospital Safety Scores this week, and hospitals across the region achieved an A grade.

Grades are given to more than 2,500 U.S. hospitals twice per year by The Leapfrog Group, which designates hospitals with grades A through F for their performances in the area of patient safety.

Of the 80 Michigan hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 26 earned an A, 13 earned a B, 37 earned a C, three earned a D and one earned an F.

A hospitals

Community Health Center of Branch County, Coldwater
Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids
North Ottawa Community Hospital, Grand Haven
Oaklawn Hospital, Marshall
Spectrum Health Big Rapids
Spectrum Health Blodgett, Grand Rapids
Spectrum Health Butterworth, Grand Rapids
Spectrum Health Ludington
Sturgis Hospital, Sturgis

B hospitals

Mercy Health Hackley Campus, Muskegon
Spectrum Health United Hospital, Greenville

C hospitals

Borgess Medical Center, Kalamazoo
Bronson Battle Creek
Bronson Methodist Hospital, Kalamazoo
Lakeland Community Hospital, Niles
Lakeland Regional Medical Center, St. Joseph
Metro Health Hospital, Wyoming
Spectrum Health Pennock, Hastings

Consecutive A grades

Five hospitals have earned straight As since the inception of Hospital Safety Score in 2013: Allegiance Health in Jackson; Dickinson County Healthcare System in Iron Mountain; Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital in Commerce Township; Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids; and University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers in Ann Arbor.

"Staff and patient safety is a top priority for Mercy Health Saint Mary's," said Dr. Matthew Biersack, VP of Quality and interim chief medical officer. "Our organization works diligently toward eliminating health care-related infections. We strive to continuously improve our care and to be proactive about addressing potential safety concerns before they become issues."

Avoidable deaths

A new report released alongside The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Score April 2016 update found that 33,000 lives would be saved if all hospitals performed as safely as A hospitals.

The report found that compared to A hospitals, patients face a 9 percent higher risk of dying from a preventable harm in B hospitals, 35 percent higher in C hospitals and 50 percent higher in D and F hospitals.

In total, the analysis showed an estimated 206,021 avoidable deaths occur in U.S. hospitals each year, a figure described as an underestimate, because the measure only accounts for a sub-set of avoidable harms patients may encounter in a hospital.

Of the 206,021 avoidable deaths occurring in all hospitals, 162,117 occur in B, C, D, and F hospitals.

“There is a large cost difference between a C through F hospital and an A hospital,” said Bret Jackson, president, Economic Alliance for Michigan, which announced the release of the grades. “That cost is not only in dollars, but we now know the cost is also in lives. Excellent patient safety is what every hospital should strive for.”

Best practices

Dr. J. Michael Kramer, SVP and chief quality officer at Spectrum Health, said the Leapfrog grade helps Spectrum’s entire health system focus on best practices and continuous improvement.

“I use Leapfrog as a way to create a conversation across Spectrum Health,” Kramer said.

He noted some of the Leapfrog best practices utilized at Spectrum include the use of electronic medical records and bar code medication administration, which helps ensure prescribed medications are safe for the patient.

“If you were to give a medication to a patient, you would always scan the medication, and it gives you a verification that you haven’t made any mistakes,” Kramer said.


The April 2016 update highlights newly added patient experience measures shown in the research to have a relationship to improved patient safety outcomes, including patient surveys on communication about medicines, communication about discharge, nurse communication, doctor communication and responsiveness of hospital staff.

Additionally, for the first time, the score included two new infection measures, MRSA Bacteremia and C.difficile.

The Hospital Safety Score used national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

Taken together, those performance measures produced a single score representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.

The Hospital Safety Score included 28 measures, all currently in use by national measurement and reporting programs.

A Leapfrog Blue Ribbon Expert Panel selected the 28 measures based on publicly available hospital safety data, analyzed the data and determined the weight of each measure based on evidence, opportunity for improvement and impact.

The grade provides the “most complete picture” of avoidable hospital errors, accidents and infections that kill or harm tens of thousands of patients every year, according to the Economic Alliance for Michigan.


The Leapfrog Group was founded in 2000 by a group of large employers and other purchasers with the goal of improving the safety of health care by “giving consumers data to make more informed hospital choices.”

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