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November 13, 2018

Here's how Maine hospitals fared in latest Leapfrog safety rankings

Maine fell three spots, but still remains in the top 10 states with the safest hospitals, according to the Leapfrog Group's fall 2018 Hospital Safety Grades.

Developed under the guidance of a national expert panel, the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses 28 measures of publicly available hospital safety data to assign grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. The methodology is peer-reviewed and fully transparent and the results are free to the public.

In the latest published rankings, Leapfrog Group ranked Maine as the 10th safest state for hospital safety, with 40% of the 15 hospitals evaluated being assigned an "A" grade. By comparison, in Leapfrog's spring 2018 report, Maine ranked seventh with 42.86% of the 15 hospitals receiving a "A" grade.

The other Top 10 states with the safest hospitals are: 1) New Jersey; 2) Oregon; 3) Virginia; 4) Massachusetts; 5) Texas; 6) North Carolina; 7) Rhode Island; 8) Ohio; 9) Colorado.

Rankings of Maine hospitals

Here are the six hospitals that received "A" grades in the fall rankings:

  • Northern Light Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth
  • Northern Light Inland Hospital in Waterville
  • Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland
  • St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston
  • Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston
  • SMHC Biddeford Medical Center in Biddeford.

Seven hospitals received "B" grades:

  • Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor
  • Northern Light AR Gould Hospital (formerly known as The Aroostook Medical Center) in Presque Isle
  • St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor
  • Cary Medical Center in Caribou
  • Maine General Medical Center in Augusta
  • Maine Medical Center in Portland
  • Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington.

Two hospitals received "C" grades:

  • Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport
  • Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, which in the spring had been one of only 49 "Straight A" hospitals in the United States to be awarded an "A" every grading cycle since 2012.

Nationwide, Leapfrog reported that 855 hospitals, or 32%, achieved "A" grades; 638, or 24%, achieved "B"; 976, or 37% achieved "C"; 164, or 6%, achieved "D"; and 17, or 1%, achieved "F."

Northern Light Mercy Hospital received an "A" grade for the fifth time in a row.

"The safety of our patients is everything," said Charlie Therrien, president of Mercy Hospital. "This recognition is a testament to the focus and hard work of so many at Mercy who work to ensure all who come through our doors receive the best experience possible."

CMMC moves up from 'C' to 'A'

Central Maine Medical Center moved up from a "C" ranking in Leapfrog's Spring 2018 Hospital Safety Grade report to an "A" this fall.

"This 'A' grade demonstrates the great progress we have made," said David Tupponce, president of Central Maine Medical Center. "But we will keep working. Quality and safety are our highest priorities and we strive for consistent progress."

CMMC reported that its emphasis on safety resulted in significant decreases in:

  • Central-line infections
  • Catheter-acquired urinary tract infections
  • Surgical site infections
  • Pressure ulcers (bedsores)
  • Post-operative wound dehiscence (infections along incision lines).

The hospital reported that another big factor in its top safety grade is the implementation of two medication safety measures, which regulate the ordering of medicine and the use of barcode technology in dispensing medicine in the hospital. Stricter electronic record-keeping reduces the chance of incorrectly dispensing medication, it stated in a news release.

The incidence of pressure ulcers has dropped dramatically at CMMC since the advent in 2015 of a special training program for nurses and other clinicians, the hospital stated. The program, unique in Maine, has led to a more than 30% drop in the difficult condition.

A vascular access team led by nurse practitioner Warren McGlauflin has also promoted safety measures at CMMC. McGlauflin, who was the first vascular access board-certified nurse in Maine, now leads a 10-person team training others in procedures like IV insertions and blood draws. His emphasis is on fewer needle pokes and lower rates of infection.

Finally, CMMC said its commitment to safety and quality is reflected in its recent hiring of Dr. John L. Alexander as chief quality officer. Alexander, who grew up in York, was until recently the chief medical officer for Steward Health Care in Boston,

"The Leapfrog score is similar to a grade you get in school — it reflects your daily work," Alexander said. "So this 'A' reflects the effort put in every day by providers, nursing staff, and all our support staff. "

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