Virginia has the second-highest rate of hospitals with an A rating for patient safety in the nation, including seven hospitals in the Richmond region, according to new ratings released Wednesday by The Leapfrog Group, a not-for-profit hospital watchdog organization.

Two regional hospitals, VCU Health System and Southside Regional Medical Center in Petersburg, ranked the lowest in the region with C grades.

Henrico Doctors’ Hospital, Parham Doctors’ Hospital, Retreat Doctors’ Hospital, Chippenham and Johnston-Willis Medical Center and John Randolph Medical Center, all owned by HCA Healthcare, and Bon Secours St. Mary’s Hospital were among the 53 percent of Virginia hospitals that received an A rating from the watchdog group. Oregon was the only state with a higher percentage of A-rated hospitals, with 58 percent. 

“This national recognition is a testament to our dedication to providing the highest quality of care for those we serve,” said Elizabeth Mikula, chief nursing officer and vice president of quality for the HCA Capital Division, in a press release. “We are honored to be recognized as a leader in patient safety and quality.”

By comparison, neighboring Maryland ranked 30th, with 25 percent of hospitals receiving an A, and Washington, D.C., ranked 47th, with no A-rated hospitals.

Bon Secours Memorial Regional and St. Francis medical centers both received B ratings.

“At Bon Secours, we are committed to delivering safe, compassionate, high-quality care to the community, and we use dozens of comprehensive metrics to track and evaluate our performance,” said Emma Swann, a spokeswoman for Bon Secours Health System, in a statement. “While we are proud to see the hard work and dedication of our nurses, doctors and staff recognized by organizations that help consumers make informed decisions, health care is very complex and understanding quality metrics is challenging. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is one of several quality measurement and comparison systems that consumers should take into consideration when making important health care decisions.”

Two hospitals in the state, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in South Boston and Riverside Walter Reed Hospital in Gloucester, received D grades. None received an F. 

The ratings are based on publicly reported data on the hospitals’ rates of infections, complications and deaths from surgery, bed sores, patient falls and injuries, and other measures that contribute to safety.

Annually, about 160,000 deaths result from avoidable medical errors that are monitored by the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, according to a press release by the organization. This is an improvement over the 205,000 estimated avoidable deaths in 2016. 

Patients at hospitals with D and F ratings face a 92 percent greater risk of avoidable death compared with A-rated hospitals, according to an assessment by the Johns Hopkins Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality for The Leapfrog Group.

Patients at C-rated hospitals, like VCU Health System, Southside Regional Medical Center and 12 other Virginia hospitals, faced an 88 percent greater risk of avoidable death, and patients at B-rated hospitals faced a 35 percent greater risk.

VCU Health System said in a statement that The Leapfrog Group Safety Grades use some “subjective and unendorsed” data in its ratings and that the grades to do not accurately reflect the hospital system’s overall quality and safety. It also said that VCU was named the top hospital in Richmond by U.S. News & World Report in 2018, holds more active Beacon designations from the American Academy of Critical Care Nurses than any other health system in the country, and has been named on Becker’s Hospital Review’s 2019 list of 100 Great Hospitals in America.

“We strongly encourage patients to look at all information available, as well as talking with family, friends and their health care provider when making their health care decisions. It is important for patients to make an informed decision when choosing a hospital,” the statement read. “The quality, safety and excellence of our care is our number one priority.”

Southside Regional Medical Center did not send a statement as of deadline.

By BRIDGET BALCH Richmond Times-Dispatch
(804) 649-6601
Twitter: @bridgetbalch