CHICAGO — Two Chicago hospitals serving many low-income patients got F's in patient safety, a new report shows, even as the state improved its overall ranking.
Mount Sinai and South Shore hospitals said their failing grades were related to their decisions not to submit data to the nonprofit Leapfrog Group. Twice a year, the nonprofit grades hospitals on 28 measures of safety, including hand hygiene, intensive care unit physician staffing, bedsores and falls. States are then ranked based on the percentage of their hospitals that earned A's. Hospitals that earn high marks often tout them to attract patients.
HSHS St. Mary's Hospital in Decatur and OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington received an A in the report, and Decatur Memorial Hospital received a B, as did Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, HSHS St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital in Effingham and Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal. See the grades here.
Hospitals don't automatically get a grade of F if they don't submit data.
The group awarded A's to about 39 percent of Illinois hospitals, up from about 35 percent of hospitals in the spring. The state ranks 13th in the nation for safety, up from 15th in the spring.
"We're really excited that Illinois is moving up the ranks and we're taking this seriously," said Cheryl Larson, president and CEO of the Midwest Business Group on Health, which works with Leapfrog in Illinois each year.
At least six Illinois hospitals earned A's for the last five years in a row: University of Chicago Medical Center in Chicago; Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora; Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield; Elmhurst Hospital; OSF St. Joseph Medical Center in Bloomington; and OSF St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg.
South Shore Hospital President CEO Timothy Caveney said his hospital didn't submit data to Leapfrog because of the process involved. "It's very expensive for us to do that, to gather that information and submit it, and we're a poor, safety net hospital trying to survive," Caveney said. More than half of the South Side hospital's patients are on Medicaid.
Earlier this year, the hospital said it might have to close its doors if it didn't get a promised $3 million infusion from the state. The hospital got that cash about three weeks ago and is no longer in danger of imminently closing, Caveney said.
He also said that the hospital's ratings are closer to average by other measures. South Shore earned two stars out of five for quality from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Mount Sinai also noted the time-consuming nature of the process. Instead of submitting data to Leapfrog, Mount Sinai chose to focus on a new initiative aimed at improving the hospital's quality of care and safety, Dr. Mira Iliescu, Mount Sinai's vice president and chief medical officer for acute care hospitals, in a statement.
"We recognized that the data from 2016 and 2017 -- from which the Fall 2018 Leapfrog scores are based -- presented an opportunity to improve in a number of areas," Iliescu said.
Hospitals that receive failing grades often get those marks either because of problems with their quality of care or because they didn't submit all the data required to Leapfrog, Larson said. Either way, she said, patients should be wary.
"They should be concerned and look at other properties in the region," Larson said.
Hospital leaders, however, have long cautioned that consumers should take grades and rankings with a grain of salt and not use them as the sole factor when choosing a hospital. Many organizations rank and grade hospitals, and they have different methodologies for doing so, leading to varying conclusions.