Safety ratings for D.C. hospital treating Rep. Scalise raises alarms

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Medstar Washington Hospital Center, the hospital at which Rep. Steve Scalise was treated for his gun shot wound and has returned due to complications, was given a D in hospital safety ratings by Leapfrog group and scored two out of 5 stars in ratings done by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Hospital Compare website.

A hospital’s ability to prevent complications from surgery was factored heavily into the ratings system. At Washington Hospital Center, “infections are a pattern and a serious one,” says Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder. “They are significantly below the national average in four out of five areas that we have data, which suggests an inability to prevent infections.”

Medstar officials have written off the ratings, saying you can’t boil complex issues down to a simple ratings system. But they could be attempting to cover up their own deficiencies. Good hospitals should have systems in place to prevent complications from surgery.

“It’s not just getting the complication; it’s how quickly the hospital identifies and treats it.” says John Hopkin Medicine’s Peter Pronovost, who is leading a federally funded program to reduce complications after surgery in 700 hospitals. “A hospital that does well on infectious complications may have structured processes and a culture in place for elective surgical cases.”

Washington Hospital Center spokeswoman So Young Pak claims the hospital has tried to improve, and takes the ratings seriously.

“We are a recognized leader in embracing transparency, and we continuously use our outcomes data to learn, improve and optimize the care we provide to 40,000 inpatients every year,” said Pak.

The hospital has actually gotten worse in Leapfrog’s ratings, dropping from an overall C in 2014 and 2015 to a D in 2016.

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