Kaweah Health gets an ‘A’ in patient safety

Kaweah Health Medical Center is one of only two Valley hospitals, and among one-third nationwide to receive the high grade from an independent watchdog group

VISALIA – Kaweah Health is among the top one-third of hospitals in the nation for patient safety, according to an independent survey. 

Kaweah Health Medical Center has received  an “A,” the top Hospital Safety Grade for spring 2022 given by the Leapfrog Group, an independent national watchdog organization. The score, released on May 10, is a national distinction recognizing Kaweah Health’s achievements in protecting patients from preventable harm and error in the hospital.

“Safety is our top priority and this ‘A’ recognizes that,” said Gary Herbst, Chief Executive Officer of Kaweah Health. “We’re proud of this honor, but our goal will always be to continue improving our performance for our patients.” 

The Leapfrog Group assigns an “A,” “B,” “C,” “D,” or “F” grade to 3,000 general hospitals across the country based on more than 30 national performance measures reflecting errors, accidents, injuries, and infections, as well as systems hospitals have in place to prevent harm. Last Fall, Kaweah Health raised its safety score from a “B” to “A,” which makes the Spring grade its second consecutive “A” grade. The only other Valley hospital to earn an “A” grade was Adventist Health Hanford. 

Kaweah Health scored better than most Valley hospitals. In Tulare County, Adventist Health Tulare was not included in the survey while Sierra View Medical Center in Porterville received a “C”.  Bakersfield Memorial earned a “B” grade while Bakersfield Heart Hospital and Kern Medical Center both received a “C”. Madera Community Hospital, St. Agnes Medical Center in Fresno and Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock all received a “C”. Delano Regional Medical Center, Clovis Community Medical Center and Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno declined to respond. 

Kaweah Health is among just 33% of general acute care hospitals graded in the U.S. that earned an “A” in Leapfrog’s bi-annual grading. Twenty-four percent received a “B,” 36% received a “C,” 7% received a “D,” and less than 1% received an “F.” The safety grades are calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent, and free to the public at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. They are updated every six months, once in the fall and once in the spring.

“As our healthcare system continues to feel the strain of the pandemic, I thank the workforce and leadership of Kaweah Health for sustained commitment to patient safety, day in and day out,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. “An ‘A’ Safety Grade is an outstanding achievement, and one that is not possible without a 24/7 effort by the entire health care workforce to protect patients from harm. This community should be proud.”

Overall, Kaweah Health improved to an A standing by: 

  • Reducing its score in four of five Healthcare Acquired Infections included in the grade calculation. Those include Clostridium difficile (C. diff), along with infection in the blood, infection in the urinary tract and surgical site infection after colon surgery.
  • Continued strong execution of seven organizational safe practices including, a comprehensive hand hygiene program, safety culture measurement and improvement, bar code medication administration, ICU physician staffing, computerized provider order entry, etc.
  • Having better than national rates in post-operative complications and healthcare acquired conditions.
  • Improvements in two of five patient experience measures (doctor communication and discharge communication).

Sandra Volchko, Kaweah Health’s director of quality & patient safety, said the hospital is always evaluating best practices and implementing strategies to achieve the highest quality of care for patients. Those include efforts from the entire team, including everyone from doctors to nurses to pharmacists managing medications to housekeepers and facility staff working to keep the hospital clean and safe to prevent injuries and infections.

“It’s up to us to have processes in place, and we do, to make sure that when patients come into the hospital they don’t leave with something such as an infection or injury. We wouldn’t be an ‘A’ without those,” Volchko said.

Kaweah Health is a publicly-owned community healthcare organization that provides comprehensive health services to the greater Visalia region and Tulare County. With 5,100 employees and 700 medical staff, Kaweah Health is committed to meeting the community’s health needs through state-of-the-art medicine, high-quality preventive services and specialized health centers and clinics. For more information, visit www.kaweahhealth.org or follow Kaweah Health on Twitter and Facebook.

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