Two hospitals grab 'best' of the decade
The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore and Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle have been named "Top Hospitals of the Decade" by The Leapfrog Group for their innovations in patient safety and quality and reducing medical errors.

The two facilities received the honor for being the only two hospitals in the U.S. to consistently perform in the top ranks of the more than 1,200 hospitals that have participated in Leapfrog's annual survey. They were awarded in a ceremony Nov. 30 in Washington, D.C.

The survey, which began in 2001, focuses on three critical areas of patient safety and quality:
  • Mortality for common high-risk surgeries and procedures;
  • Resources used to care for patients measured by length of stay and readmission rates; and
  • Management practices that promote safety and quality such as the adoption of computerized physician order entry (CPOE) to reduce medication orders and properly staffing intensive care units with specially trained doctors and nurses.

The University of Maryland Medical Center completed full implementation of CPOE three years ago. An added measure for 2010 was how effectively a hospital used CPOE to prevent medication errors. "We met, and in some cases exceeded, all of Leapfrog's performance standards for CPOE and a variety of complex procedures, including aortic valve replacement, interventional cardiology procedures, bariatric surgery and high risk deliveries," said Jonathan Gottlieb, MD, chief medical officer of the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Gottlieb also noted the specialized training of staff in intensive or critical care. "All ten of our intensive care units, including the surgical, medical, neurological, cardiac surgery, multi-trauma and pediatric ICUs, are staffed by specially trained doctors," he said.

Gary S. Kaplan, MD, chairman and CEO of Virginia Mason, said, "This recognition reflects the outstanding work physicians and team members do on behalf of our patients every day."

The Leapfrog Group is a coalition of public and private purchasers of employee health benefits founded a decade ago to work for improvements in healthcare safety, quality and affordability.

"The new era of healthcare reform is going to require providers, insurers, employers and others to work together as never before to improve the quality and efficiency of care," said David Knowlton, Leapfrog Group board chairman and president of the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute.

The Leapfrog Group on Dec. 1 also revealed the top hospitals for 2010. It should be no surprise that the University of Maryland and Virginia Mason made the grade. However, 63 other hospitals join them, which Leapfrog said is the largest number of hospitals to ever make the annual list.