- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 3, 2017

FORT PAYNE, Ala. (AP) - Patient safety is priority No. 1 for DeKalb Regional Medical Center, and the hospital continually ranks as one of the top hospitals in Alabama in this category.

DRMC was recently given an “A” letter grade from new data compiled by the Leapfrog Group, which hands out these distinctions bi-annually. It’s the seventh-straight “A” for the hospital.

The group acts as a “national patient safety watchdog,” handing out A, B, C, D and F letter grades to try to provide a complete picture of patient safety in the U.S.

But, to put into perspective how DRMC stacks up to the competition, the hospital is one of 844 hospitals in the U.S. to receive an A, and one of only 15 in the state of Alabama - 41 hospitals in the state were included in this research.

Patrick Trammell, CEO of the hospital, said DeKalb Regional has two A grades since he took over last year.

“Patient safety is a top priority for all of us at DeKalb Regional,” said Trammell. “We are pleased to see the efforts of our staff and physicians bear positive results for the ultimate consumers of health care in the region, our patients.”

Leapfrog looks at things such as infections incurred while a patient stayed at the hospital such as MRSA, blood infections or UTIs; problems that occur during surgery such as objects left in a patient’s body, death from treatable complications or dangerous blood clots, and then the hospital’s overall practices to prevent these incidents from occurring.

“It’s something that we have to be focused on every day,” said Vicki Kay, chief quality officer for DeKalb Regional. “Everyone in this organization has to be focused on patient safety.”

Kay said the statistics used by Leapfrog are reported on a daily basis.

“We report them quarterly, but we monitor them daily,” Kay said. “We have processes to prevent infection and have been very successful with it. It remains our focus.”

Leah Binder is president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit organization that pushes for transparency in reporting hospital performance in order to help people find the highest value care in their area.

Binder said safety in a hospital is the “most important” thing it can offer its patients.

“Protecting patients from harm is the most important charge for any hospital,” said Binder. “We recognize and appreciate ‘A’ hospitals’ vigilance and continued dedication to keeping their patients safe.”

Trammell said the positive accomplishments do help when recruiting new employees to the area, but, most importantly, they help give a sense of assurance to the community they serve - any kind of good publicity is going to be beneficial.

But, “scores are scores” and while they look good on paper, Trammell is more concerned about the process they following in getting to that top score.

“With Leapfrog, these things go all over the place, and there are some really, really good hospitals that have gotten some not so good scores,” Trammell said. “We focus on the process, and it’s nice to see any kind of validation, but the process is what’s important. It’s the daily hand-to-hand combat that we have to be on top of every day.”


Information from: Fort Payne Times-Journal, https://www.times-journal.com

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