Best in class
Close to half of the Houston area's general acute-care hospitals are at the top of their class, according to new safety grades assigned to U.S. hospitals. But one hospital in the region is failing on the safety front, the grades show.
In its fall 2019 report card for acute-care hospitals, The Leapfrog Group gives letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F based on the hospitals' ability to shield patients from avoidable errors, injuries, accidents, and infections. The nonprofit represents hundreds of public and private employers that buy healthcare benefits.
In the Houston area, 19 hospitals earned an A, with 14 receiving a B, seven getting a C, one picking up a D and one being slapped with an F.
Chris Skisak, executive director of the Houston Business Coalition on Health, notes that 23 percent of hospitals in the Houston areas saw their Leapfrog grades go up while just 11 percent saw their grades go down. The coalition is a regional leader for The Leapfrog Group.
"Houston-area hospitals do care about their grades," Skisak says, "and going back to 2016, most obtained a higher grade after receiving a lower grade the previous assessment period. Houston is fortunate to have [about] 50 percent of its hospitals earn consistent A grades."
For the first time in at least four years, The Leapfrog Group did hit one Houston-area hospital — Huntsville Memorial Hospital — with an F. On the spring 2019 report card, the hospital received a D. In the fall of 2018, the mark was a C.
Huntsville Memorial Hospital currently is combating what's been described as a "dire financial situation."
In a November 1 statement, the Walker County Hospital District, which owns the Huntsville hospital, said the separate nonprofit entity that runs the hospital — Walker County Hospital Corp. — was beset by monetary woes and was on the verge of declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As a result, the district warned, the hospital might close.
According to The Huntsville Item, a proposed rescue of the hospital would place ownership and management in the hands of a joint venture between the hospital district and Plano-based Community Hospital Corp., a hospital management company. The nonprofit Plano company provides supply-chain services to a Huntsville medical practice, Huntsville Orthopedic Surgery and Sports Medicine PLLC.
In the statement, the district's board says it "remains committed to maintaining a viable hospital for the community and to improving hospital operations and services."
The Leapfrog Group graded a total of 42 hospitals in the Houston area. The nonprofit released its fall 2019 report card on November 7.
Houston-area hospitals that earned an A were:
- Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
- HCA Houston Healthcare Conroe
- HCA Houston Healthcare West
- Houston Methodist Hospital
- Houston Methodist West Hospital
- Houston Methodist Willowbrook Hospital
- Memorial Hermann Southeast
- Memorial Hermann Southwest Hospital
- Memorial Hermann Northeast, Humble
- Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital
- HCA Houston Healthcare Kingwood
- CHI St. Luke's Health Memorial Livingston
- Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital in Nassau Bay
- HCA Houston Healthcare Pearland
- Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital
- CHI St. Luke's Health The Woodlands Hospital
- Houston Methodist The Woodlands Hospital
- Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital
- HCA Houston Healthcare Clear Lake in Webster
Skisak says the Leapfrog report card "is a valuable resource for employers to share with their employees so that they can self-navigate to the safest and highest quality hospitals."
"The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade offers critical patient safety information to consumers, in an easily digestible way, so that they can make informed decisions about where they seek care in the Houston area," he says in a release.
The Leapfrog Group bases its twice-a-year grades for hospital safety on 28 sets of publicly available data from more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals.