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News June 7, 2012

Kaiser Permanente Hospitals Among the Safest in the Nation

Nearly all Kaiser Permanente hospitals have been given an A rating for patient safety--and none lower than a B--in a new national report card issued Wednesday by The Leapfrog Group.

Twenty-four of the 27 Kaiser Permanente California hospitals that were included in the report received an A grade. Kaiser Permanente hospitals in Oregon (Sunnyside Medical Center) and Hawaii (Moanalua Medical Center) also received A grades.

"The mission of Kaiser Permanente is to provide high-quality, affordable health care to our members and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve," said Doug Bonacum, vice president of Quality, Safety and Resource Management at Kaiser Permanente and board member for the National Patient Safety Foundation. "As part of that mission, we aim to provide the safest hospital care anywhere. The Leapfrog report affirms that we are on the right track. We are pleased to be considered among the safest hospitals in the United States."

While Kaiser Permanente hospitals were rated among the safest in the country, hospitals nationwide fared far worse. Of the more than 2,600 hospitals that were graded in the report, nearly half (47 percent) received a C grade or lower. In California, it was a similar story. Of the 264 hospitals in California that were rated, 109 (or 41 percent) received a C grade or lower. The complete list of Leapfrog Hospital Safety Score results can be found at

Safety is a real concern for patients in American hospitals and should influence where they choose to get care. According to recent studies, one in four Medicare patients will leave a hospital with a potentially fatal issue they didn't have prior to hospitalization. On average, one medication error per day occurs for each hospitalized patient, and more than 180,000 Americans die every year from hospital accidents, errors and infections.

The Leapfrog Group is an employer-backed nonprofit group focused on health care quality. It said it issued these first-ever scores to "highlight the country's best hospitals and warn against the worst."

"The Hospital Safety Score exclusively measures safety--meaning errors, accidents and infections," said Ashish Jha, MD, of Harvard, a member of Leapfrog's expert panel that created the rating system for the hospitals. "Even hospitals with excellent programs for surgical and medical care, state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, and dedicated physicians may still need this score as a reminder that patient safety should be a top priority.''

Reducing medical errors, accidents and health care acquired infections are core values for Kaiser Permanente and have led to its continuously improving safety record. For instance, Kaiser Permanente recently redesigned its sepsis detection system using evidence-based practices and the results were dramatic. In less than two years, the number of sepsis diagnoses per 1,000 admissions increased three-fold and mortality decreased, saving over 1,100 lives during this period. This recognition by the Leapfrog Group is also a result of Kaiser Permanente's increasing use of health information technology and its integrated electronic health record, Kaiser Permanente HealthConnect®, which is the largest private electronic health record in the world. KP HealthConnect provides members with convenient, 24/7 access to their personal health information and to their care teams, with goals of increasing self-management and improving health outcomes.

"We are extremely proud of the work our physicians, nurses and caregivers do to keep patients safe," said Amy-Compton Phillips, MD, associate executive director for Quality at The Permanente Federation, which represents the national interests of The Permanente Medical Groups throughout Kaiser Permanente. "This report showcases our commitment to providing care that is effective, efficient, and above all else, safe."

The Leapfrog Group rated 2,652 hospitals across the country, assigning a letter grade of A, B, C or "score pending" (which means the grade would have been less than C) to each hospital based on 26 publicly reported national measures. The measures used to calculate the scores, and subsequent letter grades, include 15 process- or structure-related measures and 11 outcomes-based measures. The measures include central line-associated bloodstream infections, very severe pressure ulcers, and preventable complications from surgery such as foreign objects retained in the body.

The Hospital Safety Score also credits hospitals on measures of the procedures and protocols known to prevent infections, errors and accidents, such as strong nursing leadership and engagement, hand hygiene policies, and computerized physician order entry systems.

The scores were applied to all general acute-care hospitals in the United States for which Leapfrog could obtain adequate data. Hospitals that chose not to participate in the Leapfrog survey were not excluded from the report. Critical Access Hospitals, specialty, children's, military and Veterans Administration hospitals were excluded.

About Kaiser Permanente

Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve more than 9 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: