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Six of 13 Western New York hospitals in a new report card on patient safety got a grade of only D for preventing medication errors, infections and other serious problems.

Six hospitals here received C grades, and one got a B in the Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Score. Half of the hospitals in this region that were graded this year did one letter grade worse than in last year’s report card from the group.

Kaleida Health’s hospitals – Buffalo General, Millard Fillmore, Millard Fillmore Suburban and DeGraff Memorial – received D grades. But it’s difficult to draw conclusions.

Kaleida Health was graded as one entity, but the same grade was applied to all the facilities as if they all performed the same on every measure. In addition, the hospital on Gates Circle was permanently closed last year and its staff transferred to facilities on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in a long-planned move to consolidate services.

The hospitals and their Leapfrog grades are:

•Kenmore Mercy: B

•Brooks Memorial, Dunkirk: C

•Mercy: C

•Sisters: C

•Olean General: C

•Erie County Medical Center: C

•Mount St. Mary’s, Lewiston: C

•United Memorial, Batavia: D

•Buffalo General: D

•Millard Fillmore: D

•Millard Fillmore Suburban: D

•DeGraff Memorial, North Tonawanda: D

•Medina Memorial: D

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit national patient safety organization based in Washington, D.C., creates its grades by examining hospitals on 26 measures such as rates of bedsores, hospital-acquired infections, intensive-care unit staffing and adherence to hand hygiene.

In this report card, the group graded more than 2,500 general hospitals nationwide, including about half of the facilities in Western New York. The scores are available online at hospitalsafetyscore.org .

“We found incremental progress, but hospitals have a long way to go,” said Leah Binder, president and chief executive officer of the group.

The preliminary information released Tuesday did not make it clear which issues led to Kaleida Health’s D grade, but one area in which it rates worse than the national average is in deaths from serious treatable complications after surgery, according to federal data.

Michael P. Hughes, vice president and chief marketing officer for Kaleida Health, said Kaleida does not participate in the Leapfrog database, “so our quality of care is not accurately reflected in this report.”

Hughes listed several other quality awards won by Kaleida, including the Society of Thoracic Surgery’s top rating in heart surgery, and similar awards from the American Heart Association, the Blue Distinction Center for Cardiac Care and the Consumer Choice Award from the National Research Corporation.

“Our services and hospitals win national quality awards every year,” Hughes said. “While we recognize that we have had challenges in the past, we continue to improve our clinical outcomes. Kaleida Health is the area’s provider of choice when it comes to numerous services, including cardiac care, stroke, vascular, pediatrics, orthopedics and more.”

Of the 2,514 general hospitals issued a grade in the Leapfrog Group report, 780 earned an A, 638 earned a B, 932 earned a C, 148 earned a D, and 16 earned an F.

Leapfrog bases the grades on data from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which posts publicly available measures on hospitals at its Hospital Compare website at www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare. It also surveys those hospitals that voluntarily agree to participate and relies on information from an American Hospital Association survey. The report card excludes some facilities, such as mental health facilities, Veterans Affairs hospitals and free-standing children’s hospitals, said Missy Danforth, senior director of hospital ratings at the group.

Most of the data comes from 2012, officials said.

About half of the safety score is based on how well a hospital does on errors, accidents and injuries to patients that can be measured, including having foreign objects left in bodies after surgery, deaths from serious treatable complications after surgery and collapsed lungs due to medical treatment.

The other half of the score is based on how well hospitals follow procedures to prevent problems, such as using computerized systems to order medications, or whether the hospital’s administration is structured in a way to foster a culture that focuses on patient safety.

Several of the criticisms of the Leapfrog grading method are that it relies on voluntary sources of data and it mixes issues that can be quantifiably measured with those that may not necessarily result in a better grade.

“We have serious concerns about the grades,” said Melissa Mansfield, spokeswoman for the Healthcare Association of New York, which represents many hospitals in the state. “It’s an incomplete snapshot, and many hospitals have made improvements since they were surveyed.”

Nonetheless, experts in quality measurement say the report card is useful.

“The Leapfrog Group’s role, like our role, is to provide consumers with information about quality and hospitals with information they can use to make improvements,” said Bruce Boissonnault, president of the Niagara Health Quality Coalition, which also publishes an annual hospital report card.

email: hdavis@buffnews.com