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Report Cards Are In For Montana’s Hospitals

Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade
One page of St. James Healthcare's Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade report. Overall the facility earned an B.

Last week, several Montana hospitals were graded on patient outcomes and safety measures by the nonprofit group Leapfrog. Most hospitals scored well, but other Leapfrog grades show room for improvement.

Emily Coyle with the Montana Healthcare Purchasers Association explained the Leapfrog grading system is meant to help consumers compare hospitals’ patient outcomes when deciding where to receive care or surgery.

“So the hospital safety grade uses over two-dozen measures including rates of preventable errors, injuries and infections, and whether hospitals have systems in place to prevent them.”

Of the state’s 10 larger hospitals graded this spring, Coyle says six earned A and B grades. The remainder received Cs, and Kalispell Regional Healthcare was given a D.

A KRH spokesperson says the hospital received that grade because it didn’t respond to Leapfrog’s survey. Coyle says hospitals which didn’t respond are still graded on outcomes reported to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Head of the Montana Hospital Association Rich Rasmussen says it’s important to note that there are several grading systems and that patients need to look at all of them.

“Because oftentimes, the data can be evaluated in a different manner or the datasets could be incomplete.”

He says hospitals are constantly engaging in efforts to improve patient safety and outcomes. He points to MHA’s efforts to engage critical access hospitals across the state in a federal program this summer. The program is aimed at sharing and implementing best practices.

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.
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