How Safe Are Pennsylvania’s Hospitals? A New Survey Has Answers.

December 21, 2018

Unless you’re in an emergency situation, you usually have the luxury of choosing between healthcare providers in your community. What’s one of the top considerations between clinics and hospital systems? Safety.

The Leapfrog Group recently released a lengthy list of report-card-style safety grades for hospitals around the country. As a Pennsylvania-based feature notes, the grades aren’t based on patient outcomes or advanced technologies, but on steps taken to protect patients from mistakes. Just a few of the preventable medical errors personal injury lawyers frequently hear about include patient infections, medication administration miscommunications, surgical instruments left inside patients, misdiagnosis or diagnosis delays, and poor quality (or poorly made and potentially recalled) medical devices. Most of these mistakes fall under the “safety” category.

How does Philly rank in the study? In all fairness, plenty of hospitals from the Philadelphia region fared well in the Leapfrog evaluation. For instance, Mercy Health System-Nazareth Hospital, Jeanes Hospital, Temple University Hospital, and Abington Memorial Hospital received As or Bs. On the other end of the spectrum, Lower Bucks Hospital, St. Mary Medical Center, and Pennsylvania Hospital hit C and D levels. In other words, there were some clear winners–and some facilities that might want to clean up their acts before the next bi-annual safety report card comes out.

(Don’t see your local hospital named ? Conduct a quick search on the The Leapfrog Group’s site, which allows you to look for a hospital by name or location.)

Is It Time to Partner With a Different Hospital?

Before you vow never to set foot in your neighborhood hospital again, be aware that although some of these grades from The Leapfrog Group may set off alarms, they do not represent a complete snapshot of every healthcare facility. They are essentially a 30,000-foot snapshot view of each facility.

In other words, these grades are collectively earned; thus, one department might rank as an “A” player even though its professionals are housed in a “D” hospital. Plus, some hospitals focus on complex procedures and treatments, meaning they simply have more opportunities to make minor errors that could add up. This doesn’t give any hospital an “out,” but it does showcase how important it is to look at all aspects of a healthcare facility before settling on one.

Ideally, patients should take all factors into consideration when picking the hospital for themselves and/or family members.

If you’re in this situation, make sure you evaluate every potential hospital for its …

  • Unless you have the ability to go to almost any hospital at any time, you will likely want to pick the best hospital that is closest to you. This is especially true if you require regular daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly appointments.
  • Talk to friends, family members, and coworkers about the hospitals you’re considering as your first choice. If your primary care physician is not affiliated with a hospital, ask his or her advice before finalizing your decision.
  • This is where The Leapfrog Group’s grading system comes into play. You may also want to check out other similar websites that discuss patient safety and security. Stop by the Informed Patient Institute for a selection of their recommended reporting sites.
  • Will you be paying out of pocket for your medical expenses? Are you covered by insurance? These factors will inevitably come into play when you’re seeking any healthcare. Some insurance carriers and plans will cover only a small percentage of medical costs at an out-of-network hospital.
  • Some hospitals specialize in treating mainly pediatric patients, patients with cancer, patients who require dialysis, etc. If you need the help of a specialist, you should conduct a deep dive into each hospital’s specialty areas. Be sure to find out all you can about the hospital’s physicians, which is usually available on the facility’s website.

Of course, emergencies sometimes happen, and you or a loved one may be rushed to the nearest hospital. In that case, you may not have the opportunity to choose a healthcare system or provider. However, when you do have the chance to pick and choose, always use the wealth of information at your disposal.

Were you the victim of a medical error? Contact the injury lawyers at Wapner Newman for a free consultation to discuss your situation.