CARIBOU, Maine — An independent national nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the safety, quality and affordability of health care for Americans has given a Caribou hospital a top score for hospital safety.
Officials at Cary Medical Center announced recently that they were honored with an “A” Hospital Safety Score by The Leapfrog Group, an independent national nonprofit organization run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits. The score was calculated under the guidance of The Leapfrog Group’s Blue Ribbon Expert Panel using publicly available data on patient injuries, medical and medication errors, and infections. U.S. hospitals were assigned an A through F for their patient safety efforts.
The Hospital Safety Score uses national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to produce a single score representing a hospital’s overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.
In addition, secondary data from the American Hospital Association’s annual survey was used to give hospitals credit toward their safety score. The Hospital Safety Score includes 26 measures, all in use by national measurement and reporting programs.
When examining Cary, the panel investigated measures such as structures in place to keep patients safe during a hospital stay, procedures implemented to reduce the risk of infection after surgery, and steps in place to prevent medication errors and hospital acquired infections.
Kris Doody, the CEO of Cary and also a registered nurse, said patient safety always has been a major priority at the hospital.
“We take patient safety very seriously here and we work hard at it every day so that it becomes a way of life for our staff,” she explained. “It takes our entire organization including all clinical and support staff to earn such high marks and we are very proud of our ‘A’ grade.”
The CEO said that having an open dialogue with the hospital’s medical staff was a key factor in the success of their patient safety program.
Shawn Laferriere, radiologist and chief of staff at Cary, said that being able to discuss issues openly and engaging patients in the establishment of a safe hospital experience are important factors. He said that working with colleagues, nursing staff and hospital patients and families has allowed the facility to make great strides in medication safety, fall prevention and other critical areas.
Advanced technology embraced by the hospital also has helped with patient safety.
Cary has automated medication dispensing in place, a system that stores, dispenses and tracks medication use. Medication bar coding is used to reduce medication errors as it ensures that patients receive the correct prescription and dosage. The hospital also employs computerized physician order entry and electronic nursing documentation.
News of the top score came soon after Cary received three national awards at the 2012 Avatar International Client Symposium in Orlando, Fla. The accolades included the best Overall Performer Award, Exceeding Patient Expectations Award, which they earned for the sixth year in a row, and the Best Overall Performance in Nursing Communications Award.
Doody said she continues to be proud of the facility and its staff.
“To be recognized for excellence in doing the right thing for our patients, by both independent professionals in the health care industry and our patients themselves, is an incredible accomplishment,” she said.
Cary Medical Center is a 65-bed acute care hospital with approximately 540 employees, 60 active medical care providers on staff, 100 courtesy and consulting physicians, and 75 volunteers.