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Did Hospital refuse to answer survey to hide negative safety scores?

Friday, November 8, 2019, 7:30 pm News Flash Archive

Early yesterday, the Leapfrog Group, a nation-wide non-profit healthcare safety and patient advocacy organization, issued its Fall 2019 hospital safety ratings.

But according to the rating results published yesterday, Greenwood Leflore Hospital declined to answer the Leapfrog survey questions. This resulted in 7 safety areas in which no data was reported or available.

Five of the seven safety areas that GLH refused to provide data for were rated "below average" in the Spring 2019 safety ratings. These were:

  • doctors order medications through a computer
  • effective leadership to prevent errors
  • staff works together to prevent errors
  • enough qualified nurses
  • handwashing

When data is not reported, Leapfrog deletes those items from the overall scoring calculation.

One safety item, "safe medication administration," had been rated "above average" in the Spring 2019 survey. It too had to be removed from yesterday's Fall Safety Ratings due to GLH's refusal to answer the survey.

Some medical safety experts had previously expressed concern that a deliberate lack of transparency about safety issues by troubled hospitals could actually raise an overall safety grade, allowing hospitals to "game the ratings" in order to look better than they would have otherwise.

A 2017 study by University of Michigan researchers found that, by refusing to answer the survey, hospitals could actually raise their scores by hiding derogatory information from Leapfrog. See:
Honesty May Not Be the Best Policy for Hospital Safety Grades, Study Suggests

Indeed, Greenwood Leflore Hospital received a "C" grade in the new report, up from last Spring's grade of "D".

But because GLH declined to report on five safety concerns that had been "below average" in the previous survey, it's impossible to tell whether the new improved "C" grade is actually warranted.

Yesterday, The Taxpayers Channel asked Gary Marchand, interim CEO, why the hospital declined to participate in the Leapfrog Survey. Mr. Marchand has not replied to our request for comment.

This latest withdrawal by GLH from the national safety survey seems to provide additional evidence of a lack of transparency in operations and decision-making processes of the Greenwood Leflore Hospital.

The Taxpayers Channel was the first to report the Spring and Fall Leapfrog Survey results. See:
Report: Greenwood Leflore Hospital declines to participate in national safety survey

For complete coverage of these and other hospital milestones, please go here: Taxpayers Channel coverage of Greenwood Leflore Hospital's downfall.

John Pittman Hey
The Taxpayers Channel

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