Seven Connecticut hospitals receive top grades by national watchdog organization

Michael Hamad, Hartford Courant

A national watchdog group has given seven Connecticut hospitals an “A” rating for how well they protect patients from preventable errors, accidents, injuries and infections.

The nonprofit Leapfrog Group, which has been publishing a biannual Hospital Safety Grade since 2012, awarded top marks to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington; Griffin Hospital in Derby; Middlesex Hospital in Middletown; MidState Medical Center in Meriden; St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford; Stamford Health in Stamford; and the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich.

Five Connecticut hospitals received “B” grades, including Bristol Hospital in Bristol; Hartford Hospital in Hartford; St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport; UConn Health Center/John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington; and Windham Community Memorial Hospital in Willimantic.

Ten other hospitals received “C” ratings: Bridgeport Hospital in Bridgeport; Bridgeport Hospital, Milford Campus; Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich; Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London; Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk; Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury; Sharon Hospital in Sharon; The Hospital of Central Connecticut in New Britain; and Yale-New Haven Hospital and its Saint Raphael Campus, both in New Haven.

The ratings, which are updated every six months, are based on up to 27 measures gathered through the Leapfrog Hospital Survey and from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The five broad rating categories include number of Infections, problems with surgery, practices to prevent error, safety problems and doctors, nurses and hospital staff.

“We see in the news every day the extraordinary courage of clinicians and staff caring for patients stricken by COVID-19,” Leapfrog president and CEO Leah Binder said in a press release. “We are grateful for the heroic efforts of hospitals across the Nation and applaud their efforts that are protecting our families.”

The Fall 2020 data does not include statistics collected at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. No Connecticut hospital received lower than a “C.”

St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford, which has received an “A” rating in all but one survey since 2017, received below average scores for several surgery subcategories, including “dangerous object left in patient’s body,” “surgical wound splits open,” “death from serious treatable complications” and “collapsed lung.”

After seven consecutive “C” grades, Hartford Hospital received its first “B,” despite performing below average in most surgery problems, three types of common hospital infections and patient falls and injuries.

UConn Health in Farmington has received “C” and “B” grades since 2017, when it last received an “A.” It performed better than average in most surgery and infection categories but worse in responsiveness of hospital staff and safe medication administration.

The Connecticut Hospital Association lists 27 acute care hospitals in the state, along with 11 non-governmental psychiatric, rehabilitation, substance abuse or terminally ill hospitals.

Dr. Mary Cooper, senior vice president of Clinical Services at the Connecticut Hospital Association, said Leapfrog is “but one of the tools that patients can use to make decisions about their care; there are many others, with different methodologies and, consequently, varying results.”

“Connecticut hospitals strive every day to sustain an environment that is safe for patients, visitors, and staff,” said Cooper. “Hospitals are committed to this work and continuous improvement. That reality has been clearly evident during the past year, as we have learned from one another and colleagues across the country caring for patients and each other during the pandemic that has stressed our healthcare system. Connecticut hospitals appreciate the strong collegial relationships that allow us to work side-by-side to improve and continue our patient safety journey; it is our highest priority.”

Overall, Connecticut hospitals came in 28th nationwide — a drop from 17th place in Fall 2019 — and fared better in New England than Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

Only one Connecticut hospital — the William W. Backus Hospital in Norwich — made Leapfrog’s Top General Hospitals list. MidState Medical Center in Meriden was named a Top Teaching Hospital.

The top five ranking states nationwide were Maine, Idaho, Delaware, Massachusetts and Oregon. There were no “A”-level hospitals in Alaska, South Dakota and North Dakota.

Michael Hamad may be reached at