ALPENA — Alpena hospital patients can expect a staff focused on keeping them safe but may not have immediate access to specialty doctors, according to a report shared by a national health safety watchdog organization.
The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit that evaluates patient safety at hospitals nationwide, last week released its twice-annual safety grades based on hospitals’ prevention of medical errors and harm to patients.
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Leapfrog did not assign MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena a grade during this grading period.
According to its website, Leapfrog will not assign a grade if it lacks complete safety data for a hospital for the period measured.
Leapfrog did, however, share information reported by the Alpena hospital in October. That data indicates some strength areas for the hospital and some categories in which the hospital falls below national safety measures.
Data for that report is drawn from a range of reporting dates, based on Leapfrog reporting guidelines.
According to that report, the Alpena hospital shone in the area of preventing and responding to patient harm, earning full points on a Leapfrog scale for supporting its nursing workforce, monitoring hand hygiene practices, and holding its leadership accountable for reducing unsafe practices.
It fell below full marks for intentionally improving a “culture of safety.”
The hospital also received high marks, compared to national norms, for care of new mothers and newborns and safe ordering and administration of medication.
While the hospital demonstrated “considerable achievement” in the category of total joint replacement, the hospital lacks protocols to make sure only patients who meet certain criteria get the surgeries, Leapfrog reported.
Over the past year to two years, Alpena surgeons performed 216 total knee replacements and 108 total hip replacement surgeries, Leapfrog reported.
Surgeons performed substantially more colonoscopies — nearly 1,500 — than any other elective outpatient surgery over a recent 12-month period, plus about 880 other digestive tract examinations. They performed about 1,000 orthopedic procedures, not including full knee and hip replacements, and more than 500 eye procedures during the reporting period.
The hospital ensured patients had access to trained staff during their outpatient surgery visits but received lower marks for completing safety checklists at every procedure and for patients’ reported satisfaction with their surgery visit.
The hospital got low scores for billing ethics — because it does not have a staff member assigned to quickly investigate billing errors and set up payment plans – and on-site availability of specialty critical care doctors.
A survey item indicating poorer-than-standard levels of infections related to hospital procedures at the Alpena hospital includes a note that some survey data was collected during the pandemic.
In the spring, Leapfrog gave the Alpena hospital — and more than a third of other hospitals nationwide — a C grade. In 2020 and 2021, the hospital earned two A grades, a B, and a C.
While spring 2022 hospital rankings declined nationwide coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, Leapfrog over the past decade has documented a “consistent pattern of better performance” in hospitals, according to the organization, which credits those improvements for saving an estimated 16,000 lives over the 10-year period.
Noting that hospitals had never before logged such universal improvement in patient safety, the Leapfrog Group said the public reporting of hospitals’ safety records galvanized positive change.
“It’s not enough change, but we’re on the right track,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, in a news release.
View all hospital safety survey results at hospitalsafetygrade.org.
Surgeries by the numbers
Adult outpatient elective surgeries performed at MyMichigan Medical Center-Alpena from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, by general category.
Gallbladder removal and common duct explorations: 119
Hemorrhoid procedures: 23
Hernia repairs: 24
Lumpectomies and quadrantectomies of breast: 96
Other hernia repairs: 52
Stomach and digestive
Lower GI endoscopies (colonoscopies): 1,494
Upper GI endoscopies/other procedures: 881
Obstetrics and Gynecology
Cervix procedures: 41
Uterus and adnexa laparoscopies: 46
Anterior segment eye procedures: 535
Other eye procedures: 8
Bones and joints
Finger, hand, wrist, forearm, and elbow procedures: 305
General orthopedic procedures: 54
Hip procedures (does not include total hip replacements): 4
Knee procedures (does not include total hip replacements): 101
Shoulder procedures: 342
Toe, foot, ankle, and leg procedures: 203
Ear, nose, mouth, and throat
Ear procedures: 5
Mouth procedures: 1
Nasal and sinus procedures: 21
Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
Breast repairs and reconstructions: 0
Skin grafts and repairs: 346
Bladder and urethra examinations: 273
Male genital procedures: 10
Urethra procedures: 12
Vaginal repair procedures: 1
Source: The Leapfrog Group