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UPMC Altoona gets ‘A’ from Leapfrog

Hospital received green marks in 21 categories; red in six

UPMC Altoona has received an A, the highest mark, this spring from The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit watchdog organization that rates hospitals on their ability to protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

It’s the sixth consecutive A for the hospital from Leapfrog, which issues reports twice a year.

The hospital also has a four-stars-out-of-five rating from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and only one “black mark” among 16 illness categories from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment’s latest performance report.

“It’s a significant achievement, especially because it comes at such challenging times in health care,” said Dr. David Burwell, chief quality officer for UPMCs Altoona, Bedford, Somerset and Western Maryland, in a phone interview.

The challenges include issues connected with the COVID-19 pandemic: unknowns, heavy patient loads and staff challenges, according to Burwell.

He credited staff — doctors, nurses, environmental workers and lab techs — for the successes. They’ve been resilient and have worked together, he said.

For 27 outcomes or process measures — each rated green for good, yellow for average and red for poor — UPMC Altoona earned green for all but six, according to the Leapfrog report.

Those six were all red.

Under “infections,” the hospital earned green for MRSA, infections in the blood, urinary tract infections and post-colon surgical infections. It earned red for clostridium difficile infections.

Under “problems with surgery,” the hospital earned green for dangerous objects left in patients, surgical wounds splitting open, serious breathing problems, dangerous blood clots and accidental cuts and tears. It earned red for death from serious treatable complications and for collapsed lungs.

Under “practices to prevent errors,” the hospital earned green for doctors ordering medications with computers, safe medical administration, handwashing, communication about medicine, communication about discharge and staff working together to prevent errors.

Under “safety problems,” the hospital earned green for dangerous bed sores and air or gas bubbles in the blood. It earned a red for patient falls and injuries.

Under “doctors, nurses and hospital staff,” the hospital earned green for effective leadership to prevent errors, enough qualified nurses, specially trained doctors caring for ICU patients and communication with nurses. It earned red for communication with doctors and for responsiveness of hospital staff.

CMS’ Hospital Compare rates hospitals on mortality, safety, readmissions, patient experiences, effectiveness of care, timeliness of care and efficient use of medical imaging.

Under mortality, UPMC Altoona was average for six metrics and below average on one metric, according to the CMS website. Under safety of care, UPMC Altoona was above average on four measures and average on four others.

Under readmissions, UPMC Altoona was above average on one measure, average on nine and below average on one.

Death rates were evaluated for COPD, heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, stroke and CABG surgery.

Timeliness and effectiveness of care were evaluated for sepsis, cataract surgery, the aftermath of colonoscopies, heart attacks, emergency department visits, illness prevention, cancer, pregnancies and deliveries, infections associated with central lines, urinary tract and surgical site infections related to colon surgery and from abdominal hysterectomies and infections from MRSA and from clostridium difficile.

The use of medical imaging was also evaluated.

UPMC Altoona received three of five stars from CMS under patient survey rating.

UPMC Altoona received a black mark for a high death rate for sepsis in the PHC4 performance report for 2019.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 814-949-7038.

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