Safest Hospitals in America

Medical errors happen for a variety of reasons, but to better promote safety, the AARP compiled a list of the nation's safest hospitals and steps they've taken to protect the health of their patients.

For a variety of reasons, medical errors happen more often than anyone would like. One cause is the heavy workloads physicians are expected to handle. There are also dangers inherent in the very technology doctors use to help patients, as shown in ECRI Institute’s annual list the top health technology hazards in hospitals.

AARP The Magazine and The Leapfrog Group have compiled a list of the safest hospitals in the country based on a number of factors like their Hospital Safety Scores and the steps some hospitals are taking to protect the health of their patients.

“We hope by spotlighting some of the hospitals that are excelling in safety, we will encourage all healthcare providers to revisit their current procedures and strive to deliver the best care possible,” Nancy Graham, Vice President and Editor of AARP The Magazine, said in a statement.

Below are just some of the safest hospitals in AARP The Magazine — they were chosen based on how many safety features they have put into place.

Mayo Clinic Hospital

Phoenix, Ariz.

The first hospital designed and built by the Mayo Clinic, the Phoenix/Scottsdale facility has 268 beds with 21 operating rooms.

• Rapid-response nurse program with a nurse on call 24/7 who does rounds in every unit to talk to team leads and check on sickest patients.

• Installed "Yes Board," a computer program that combines vital signs and other care aspects on a single display to show how a patient is doing.

• Safety training includes "simulation education" with role-playing to demonstrate communication obstacles that could arise.

St. Marys Hospital of Rochester

Rochester, Minn.

The hospital has 1,265 beds with 55 operating rooms. The overall medical center is a partnership between the Mayo Clinic, Saint Marys Hospital and Rochester Methodist Hospital.

From Wikipedia.com

• In-depth mortality reviews, evaluating for potential management and patient safety problems.

• Voluntary reporting system; about 12,000 incidents are reported each year.

• All facilities in Mayo organization are on one computer system for easier analysis.

• Focus on team engagement for problem solving.

• Developed a formal way of handing off information to other personnel at shift change.

• All medicines are bar-coded.

University of California Davis Medical Center

Sacramento, Calif.

This 619-bed facility handled 61,037 emergency room visits and 31,450 admissions for the year ending June 30, 2012.

From Wikipedia.com

• Use surgical checklists to guarantee effectiveness between operating team and patients.

• Constant assessments of at risk patients as well as follow-up phone calls to review discharge instructions and plans for follow-up care.

• Have a “wipe-down protocol” at the end of every nursing shift, which is designed to eliminate infection.

• Have an “early mobility” program, which helps patients become more active to help avoid infection, cognitive impairment and increased complications.

Dublin Methodist Hospital

Dublin, Ohio

HealthGrades ranked the hospital among the nation’s top 5% for providing outstanding patient experiences.

• Staff and patients use separate hallways, to keep patient halls quiet and reduce risk of falls.

• Rails are installed around entire patient room.

• Double-wide bathroom doors in each patient room offer extra space.

• No overhead paging of doctors, which keeps halls quiet so alerts can be heard more clearly.

• Staff is required to report errors by themselves or others.

• Weekly review and analysis of all safety issues, which are then classified from nonevent to serious event.

Tufts Medical Center

Boston, Mass.

The 415-bed medical center is also the principal teaching hospital for Tufts University School of Medicine. All the full-time physicians also hold faculty positions.

Tufts University School of Medicine. Copyright John Phelan | Wikipedia.com

• Detailed checklists help staff focus on specific issues for each patient.

• Have time outs; go over intensive checklists to guarantee all precautions are taken before surgery or injection.

• Thrive from multidisciplinary teamwork; bring in professionals from all backgrounds so each patient can be assessed from a 360-degree perspective.

• Continuous evaluation to decrease rate of secondary infection and exposure risks.

Sibley Memorial Hospital

Washington, D.C.

Founded in 1890, this 318-bed community hospital is a member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

• Patients having joint surgery are given a solution to cleanse with before the operation in an attempt to reduce infections. Also screen for MRSA and give patients antibiotics at the time of surgery.

• Bed alarms alert nurses when patients who are at risk for falls are getting out of bed.

• Staff members participate in a patient safety survey every 18 months.

• Adverse events committee does a root-cause analysis of safety issues.

• 85% compliance in hand hygiene since placing hand gel stations outside of each room.

Billings Clinic

Billings, Mont.

The clinic is governed by a 12-member board consisting of nine community members, two physicians and a physician CEO.

• Encourage the use patient stories to advance our culture of transparency.

• Employ medication reconciliation pharmacists to advance appropriate medication reconciliation with a focus on discharge transitions of care.

• Prevent wrong site surgeries by implementing the WHO safe surgical checklist. This has resulted in no wrong site surgeries for 3 years.

• All medications are bar-coded.

• Use a common electronic medical record that is used and integrated among multiple providers and sites across rural communities in Montana and Northern Wyoming to provide continuity of care.

University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers

Ann Arbor, Mich.

The system includes 120-plus clinic locations and offices and more than 26,000 faculty and staff involved in patient care, education and research. Plus the university’s medical school ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 10 for both research schools and primary care schools.

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, a pediatric hospital through the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.

• Open disclosure policy means patients are alerted right away when mistakes happen.

• Members of hospital leadership take regular "patient safety rounds" to bring them up to speed on safety concerns.

• Devices and testing supplies ensure rooms are cleaned thoroughly.

• Code Sepsis teams review bioscores generated from vital signs to recognize and respond to sepsis earlier.

• Risk assessments are performed on patients who might be prone to falling; hourly checks occur once these patients are admitted.

Cleveland Clinic

Weston, Fla.

Part of Cleveland Clinic Ohio, the Weston and West Palm Beach, Fla., centers have more than 215 physicians in more than 40 specialties.

• All staff get safety update training every 6 months.

• A nurse assesses patients each day to determine fall risk. Those patients that are at risk are given special yellow slippers to wear, so they can be identified.

• Nurses assess for pressure ulcers and bedsores daily. Those patients at a higher risk are transferred to beds with alternating air pressure mattresses to prevent skin problems.

• The electronic medical record (EMR) has built-in stops that prompt doctors to assess for the patient’s risk of blood clots.

• Must justify the presence of a catheter after 48 hours.

Inova Fair Oaks Hospital

Fairfax, Va.

A 182-bed acute care community hospital that is one of five in the Inova health care system based in Northern Virginia.

• Has an intensive team of safety coaches who monitor other staff members to make sure patient safety is being heavily enforced. Coaches meet twice a month to discuss ways to improve.

• Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) system electronically submits doctor’s prescription order to avoid mix-up or confusion once it reaches the pharmacy.

• In the electronic Intensive Care Unit (eICU), doctors watch patients overnight and can see chart notes, monitor prescriptions, and watch patients through a high-definition (HD) camera.

• Special protocol for patients who are extremely contagious isolate them until they receive two negative cultures permitting them to be around others again.

• Cut down visitation during flu season to reduce exposure to people coming into hospital.