Two Triangle hospitals get lowered grades in new national report

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Duke Hospital and WakeMed Cary fell below their usual standards, a DC-based ranking company says.

A new national report from Leapfrog Rankings, a Washington D.C.-based non-profit organized focused on healthcare, rated several hospitals in the Triangle, highlighting both successes and issues across the board.

According to recently compiled scores, Duke University Hospital and WakeMed Cary Hospital earned a "C" grade, a sharp drop for two typically high-performing hospitals.

Duke University had received an "A" grade the past six reports, and WakeMed Cary Hospital had received an "A" four of the past five reports.

"Patients going to receive care there should definitely be aware that there were some safety issues that have happened in this hospital recently," explained Erica Mobley, the Director of Operations for Leapfrog.

The study shows that Duke University Hospital had more hospital-acquired infections, patient falls, and surgical complications than average hospitals nationwide.

That data is compiled by the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid, voluntary surveys that hospitals participate in, and the American Hospital Association's annual survey.

"Across the country, we've seen a number of hospitals that have been able to successfully raise their grades from a D or even an F up to an A," said Mobley.

Many hospitals throughout the Triangle received high marks for their performance, with Duke Raleigh, Duke Regional Hospital, Rex Hospital, Inc., Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, and UNC Hospitals all receiving an "A" grade.

In a statement, Duke University Hospital President Dr. Thomas Owens wrote:

"Patient safety and quality care delivery have been a perennial hallmark of Duke University Hospital and remain our most important commitment to our patients. While we are disappointed with a "C" in this particular six-month Leapfrog rating period, we understand the factors that drove this particular grade and believe that significant ongoing quality improvements will result in our return to an "A" grade that we have earned for the past many rating periods. We value the quality and safety analyses provided by Leapfrog, as well as those performed in many other publicly reported surveys that continue to rate Duke University Hospital as one of the top hospitals in the country."

Kristin Kelly Gruman with WakeMed Health & Hospitals wrote:

"As health care providers, our focus is on providing a safe and healing environment. Reducing our rates of hospital-acquired infections, falls with injury and other preventable harm events is a priority for us and something we will be focusing on significantly in a coordinated way in the coming months. Our goal is to achieve straight 'A's and keep our patients as safe as possible while in our care. We will all work together to get there."

"That's really the kind of leadership we hope to see from hospitals that score poorly," Mobley explained.

No hospital in North Carolina received lower than a "C" grade. The reports are released every six months.

To look at the full state rankings, click here.
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