BELFAST, Maine — Waldo County General Hospital has been recognized nationally for its quality of patient care and management of resources.
WCGH was one of three rural hospitals given the prestigious Leapfrog Award during a presentation in Washington, D.C., this week. Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway and Polk Medical Center in Cedartown, Ga., were the other rural recipients.
Given annually by the Leapfrog Group, the award honors hospital performance under national standards of safety, quality and efficiency. The group represents many of the country’s largest corporations and public agencies that buy health benefits.
“This is the gold standard of the nation in measuring the quality of care given to patients,” WCGH executive director Mark Biscone said Friday. “I accept the award, but it’s my co-workers and it’s the medical staff that are really doing the care, the quality and seeing to the safety of the patients.”
Leapfrog was launched in 2000 after a 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine that found that up to 98,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors made in hospitals. The report recommended that large employers provide more market pressure to improve the quality and safety of health care. Companies such as Boeing and IBM are among the founding members of the Leapfrog Group. Leapfrog’s founders realized they could improve health care by rewarding hospitals that implement significant improvements in quality and safety.
Biscone said more than 1,300 hospitals across the country participated in the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, including all 38 in Maine. WCGH has submitted the Leapfrog Survey since 2006. The hospitals reporting to the survey represented nearly 50 percent of the hospital beds in the U.S., he said.
In a memo to WCGH employees, Biscone wrote, “I thank each and every one of my co-workers and medical staff members for helping our hospital obtain this recognition. It is truly a reflection of your hard work and unrelenting effort.”
The hospital’s performance was measured through standards for complex, high-risk procedures, staffing standards, implementation of procedures to prevent medication errors, mortality rates for certain common procedures, infection rates and value. Leapfrog ranks hospitals on 20 separate categories for care and procedure, Bis-cone said.
The Leapfrog survey is the only one in the country that compares hospitals on all the key issues of quality, safety and efficiency. Along with the three rural hospitals honored, the award also was given to 34 urban hospitals and eight pediatric hospitals.
The Leapfrog Group has determined that more than 57,000 lives could be saved, more than 3 million medical errors avoided and $12 billion saved each year if all hospitals implemented its recommended quality and safety practices.
“Progress on patient safety is moving too slowly,” said Leah Bender, CEO of the Leapfrog Group. “Consumers and purchasers of health care want hospitals to implement safety standards and procedures known to improve quality and reduce unnecessary injury and death. The safety goals Leapfrog promotes are achievable. More hospitals should be meeting Leapfrog standards for common and high-risk procedures.”