UCSD Hospitals Receive C Grade for Hospital Safety

Connor Gorry / The Triton

Both UC San Diego-affiliated hospitals, UCSD Health Hillcrest and UCSD Health La Jolla, received C grades for hospital safety from The Leapfrog Group, according to its Spring 2018 report.

The Leapfrog Group is an independent, non-profit organization that promotes transparency and safety in the U.S. health system. According to the group’s website, its safety reports are becoming “the gold standard” of patient safety, as its reports have been cited in The New York Times and MSNBC. The group has tracked hospital safety since 2012, releasing reports twice a year. The organization grades on 27 categories separated into five sections: “Infections,” “Problems with Surgery,” “Practices to Prevent Errors,” “Safety Problems,” and “Doctors, Nurses, and Hospital Staff.”

The grades for both hospitals dropped significantly over the past few years, as both had received an A grade in Spring 2015, then a B grade in Fall 2016 and 2017, and now a C grade in Spring 2018.

The report shows that the La Jolla hospital performed below average in 10 out of 27 categories that measure hospital safety, while the Hillcrest hospital performed below average in five. However, the Hillcrest hospital did not have data available for five other categories.

The La Jolla hospital performed below average in all of the categories under the “Infections” section, including “MRSA infection,” “Infection in the blood,” and “Infection in the urinary tract.” Under the “Problems with Surgery” section, the hospital received a score of 0.63 in the “Collapsed Lung” category, which, according to the report, is the worst score a hospital has received, with the best score being 0.21. According to the report, this number represents the number of times patients experienced collapsed lungs for every 1,000 people discharged. In the “Serious breathing problem” category, the hospital received a score of 15.05, the best score being 2.63. The score represents the number of times patients experienced serious breathing problems for every 1,000 patients who underwent surgery.

The Hillcrest hospital also received a score of 0.63 in the “Collapsed Lung” category and performed below average in four of the seven categories in the “Problems with Surgery” section.

Assistant Executive Director of Communications at UCSD Health Jacqueline Carr claims that the UCSD hospitals are committed to progressing towards a perfect safety score.

“UC San Diego Health’s number one priority is to provide consistent, safe, effective care to its patients,” said Carr. “While the health system saw a temporary uptick in patient safety events (late 2014 through mid 2015), our most recent performance indicates a sharp decrease in hospital-acquired infections, falls, and other patient safety events. UC San Diego Health is progressing toward its goal of zero instances of preventable harm and is committed to delivering high quality, reliable care to its patients. These outcomes will be evident in future reports.”

Other San Diego hospitals that received a C grade include Scripps Mercy Hospital of San Diego, Alvarado Hospital Medical Center, Scripps Memorial Hospital of Encinitas, Palomar Medical Center, and Tri-City Medical Center of Oceanside. Six of the 15 hospitals received a B grade: Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center, Scripps Mercy Hospital of Chula Vista, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, Scripps Memorial Hospital of La Jolla, Scripps Green Hospital, and Pomerado Hospital. The only two hospitals to receive an A grade are Sharp Memorial Hospital and Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

Anabel King is a Staff Writer for The Triton. You can follow her @anabelkingg