Wiregrass Medical Center in Geneva is listed among the worst hospitals in the country in a study by a national nonprofit group.
According to The Leapfrog Group, Wiregrass Medical Center received a Hospital Safety Score of F, making it one of just 25 hospitals to receive a failing grade in the study, which included 2,620 facilities.
According to the study’s website, http://www.hospitalsafetyscore.org, the Hospital Safety Score is culled from 26 national measures of safety and is designed to represent a hospital’s overall performance in avoiding preventable harm and medical errors.
However, much of the study relies on survey information provided voluntarily by medical facilities.
Many hospitals in Alabama declined to participate in the study, a fact some in the field say discredits the Hospital Safety Score.
“We’re aware of it,” said Charlie Faulkner, hospital administrator of Wiregrass Medical Center. “We didn’t participate in the study. I think (the study) is fairly random. I’d compare our infection rates favorably with anybody in Alabama.”
In addition to the surveys, Leapfrog used information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services as one of the primary sources for the study.
Because some of the services measured by Leapfrog aren’t offered at smaller hospitals, the Alabama Hospital Association says the study is incomplete.
“We think there are better studies,” said Rosemary Blackmon, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the association. “Some of the things Leapfrog asks are not doable for a lot of the hospitals, plus a lot of our hospitals do not take the time to complete the entire survey because it’s very lengthy and most say there are better tools out there to measure patient safety as a benchmark.”
Among Wiregrass Medical’s worst scores was the percentage of patients who received the right antibiotic at the right time. The study listed just 13 percent of the hospital’s patients receiving the proper antibiotic, well below the average score of 98 percent.
Faulkner defended the hospital’s record.
“We think it’s good to measure hospital safety and infections, and we think we do a good job,” he said. “Our infection rates are very low, and we have a very safe hospital. We’ll continue to argue a little bit with Leapfrog, which is a private proprietary group. We still debate some of their parameters.”
Not all area hospitals agree with Faulkner’s assessment of Leapfrog, though.
Flowers Hospital, which received an A rating, issued a press release lauding the grade.
While Flowers also didn’t participate in the survey, the release referred to the grade as a “reflection of our team’s unwavering dedication and commitment.”
The scores were calculated under the guidance of a nine-member panel of medical experts from various universities.
The following Wiregrass hospitals received grades from Leapfrog.
Flowers Hospital: A
Southeast Alabama Medical Center: C
Medical Center Enterprise: A
Medical Center Barbour: D
Wiregrass Medical Center: F
Jackson Hospital (Fla.): C