Timpanogos Regional Hospital Proved Safe Time and Time Again 4

Flags fly at Timpanogos Regional Hospital on Thursday. The hospital received an "A" rating three years in a row from The LeapFrog Group, an independent industry watchdog. Timpanogos Regional Hospital is 1 of only 251 hospitals nationwide to receive such a rating.

Thoughts are mixed about a recent report about hospital safety across the country.

Four of the five hospitals in Utah County were rated, and the results were across the spectrum. The report was issued by The Leapfrog Group, one of a number of agencies doing such evaluations.

Timpanogos Regional Hospital in Orem earned an A. Mountain View Hospital in Payson received a B. American Fork Hospital got a C. Utah Valley Regional Medical Center scored a D.

Each of the hospitals was evaluated on safety problems with surgery, staff following steps to make surgery safer, infections and safety problems, right staffing to prevent safety problems, and using standard safety procedures.

Paula Strasburg, director of quality and risk at Timpanogos Regional Hospital, said she was pleased with the report, which continued the hospital's A grade since the last report six months ago.

"I was pretty amazed when I saw that," she said. "We are the only one in the state. That is a first. It was nice to see that.

"Sometimes I think it is the little things that we do every day that contribute."

Strasburg gave some examples of those everyday things that control infections, including checking how long items are used.

"We consistently monitor when catheters went in," she said. "We look at patients to see if they are on ventilators too long. We have ventilator vacations. We do rounding on the units so that nurses observe the patients for fall risks."

The accolades are great, but Strasburg emphasized the scores do not necessarily tell the whole story.

"We have a lot of good hospitals in the area," she said. "It may not be that they performed poorly, but that some facilities didn't report their results."

Lisa Paletta, the chief nursing officer for Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, agreed. That facility received a D, but she said it was not indicative of the hospital's quality.

"I don't feel it reflects the care we deliver," she said. "We deliver excellent care in a service-oriented way. We have such great staff that really takes safety very seriously. We always take every opportunity to learn.

"We strive to perform at the highest level of patient safety and clinical quality. The reason why this grade is what it is is because there are so many rating agencies and this one rated a little differently."

She gave an example.

"There is a metric around how they classify their intensive care units as open or closed," Paletta said. "They weight that as 25 percent of the score.

"To remedy that, we are closing our ICUs."

Intermountain, the parent company of Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, is also planning to update the way physicians do their charting of testing and observations.

"We have done a lot to provide safety and quality care," Paletta said. "We share items that could be potential safety concerns so that it doesn't happen again."

She feels confident about the care provided by UVRMC.

"This is where I take my family for care," she said. "My mom and dad have also received care here. Our quality is very top notch and excellent."

The ratings are available at www.hospitalsafetyscore.org. Individuals may search by state, specific hospitals or by a city's zip code.

Ratings may help prospective patients select a place for treatment. In addition, insurance carriers or employers may choose who they want to do business with based on those results.

Overall, Utah's scores are among the worst in the nation on the Leapfrog report. The state was ranked in 48th place, with only Washington, D.C. and North Dakota ranking lower. Maryland is not ranked because hospitals are not required to publicly report their safety data.

That rating was based on the number of hospitals receiving A grades compared to the number of hospitals that were rated. Utah's ranking indicated 4 percent of its hospitals earned an A.

Daily Herald reporter Barbara Christiansen can be reached at (801) 344-2907 or bchristiansen@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @bchristiansen3.