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Two Santa Monica Hospitals Get Top Marks in Patient Safety

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By Hector Gonzalez
Staff Writer

May 1, 2015 -- Two hospitals in Santa Monica earned the top score Wednesday in a ranking of patient safety that also handed out C, D, and F grades to 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals.

Providence Saint John’s Health Center and UCLA Medical Center of Santa Monica each received a grade of A in the Leapfrog Group’s Spring 2015 Hospital Safety Score, (  which rated more than 2,500 hospitals on their ability to prevent errors, injuries, accidents and infections.

“Providence Saint John’s Health Center was built on and continues its tradition of quality and safe care for our patients,” said Marcel Loh, the hospital’s chief executive. “Recognition by the Leapfrog Group with an A rating for patient safety is a testament to our nurses, our physicians and all who care for those who put their trust in us every day.”

Of 2,523 hospitals issued a safety score by the hospital industry-supported nonprofit, 782 earned an A, 719 earned a B, 859 earned a C, 143 earned a D and 20 earned an F grade, said Ashley Duvall, spokeswoman for the Leapfrog Group.

At a time when more than 1,000 people die every day from preventable accidents in hospitals, Leapfrog believes that patient safety should be job No. 1 in every hospital, 24-7,” said Leah Binder, Leapfrog’s president and CEO.

This year, the safety ratings include a hospital’s 2015 score along with its scores from the previous three years, allowing consumers to “evaluate whether the hospital has maintained consistently strong performance or shown a pattern of improvement,” said Duvall.

With 40 percent of the nation’s hospitals receiving C, D or F grades, “there is absolutely room for improvement,” said Binder.

“It’s important for patients to have access to the most in-depth and current data, which is why we offer the Hospital Safety Score twice each year and encourage those planning a hospital visit to check back for the most recent score,” she said.

According to Consumer Watchdog of Santa Monica, the cost of medical errors tops $19 billion a year, the group’s website said.

“This is a crisis that won’t be stopped until the laws catch up to negligent doctors and holds them accountable,” said Carmen Balber, executive director of Consumer Watchdog, which advocates changing a 1975 federal law that caps damages in malpractice cases at $250,000.

“We need to update a 40-year-old law that prevents injured patients and their families from having access to justice,” Binder said.  

Overall, the findings for this year found that while hospitals improved in pre- and post-operative safety procedures, “their performance outcomes -- including preventing errors, accidents and infections -- has not significantly improved,” Duvall said.

Since the last survey in fall 2014, hospitals overall improved on administering proper antibiotics before surgery and discontinuing use after surgery, according to the score’s findings.

Leapfrog also found that 33 hospitals improved significantly from 2014, but 33 showed a significant decline in patient safety.

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