A Poor Report Card for Minnesota’s Hospitals


Carrie Mortrud, RN


By Carrie Mortrud, RN


Timing really is everything.
Last evening I participated in parent teacher conferences at my daughter’s middle school.  As many of you know, this is when we as parents patiently or impatiently wait our turn to talk to our child’s teacher about the school year, homework and of course grades. Fitting that yesterday, the Hospital Safety Score grades or their “report cards” were released.  I was appalled to see that Minnesota has dropped from 15th best in the country down to 32nd!

The grades come from Leapfrog, an independent non-profit agency that compiles information from all the hospital data agencies and clearinghouses.  Leapfrog looks at reports from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.  This report then bases the rankings on data collected from hospitals on errors, injuries, accidents, infections, using 28 other key patient safety metrics.  Check out how Minnesota did here compared to the rest of the country.  Then look at a hospital near you by clicking here.

Not every hospital in MN participates and not many complete the information completely.  For instance, one of the measurement tabs is titled, “Right Staffing to Prevent Safety Problems” and within this tab is another tab that specifically addresses “appropriate numbers of nurses.”  I was surprised (and then not really surprised) to read that the majority of hospitals that did participate “declined” to answer that section or declined to submit information.  The definition is very straightforward.  Unless the appropriately trained staff and correct NUMBER of staff are present to care for a specific patient population, patients may be at risk.

Patients receive most of their care from nurses, not doctors.  When hospitals don’t have enough nurses or the nurses don’t have the right training, patients face a much greater risk of harm.  Without enough qualified nurses, patients might face more complications, longer hospital stays, and even death.

This definition of “enough qualified nurses” and why having them is necessary is a section a majority of hospitals declined to answer or submit information.  Is an incomplete acceptable to you?  Don’t patients have right to know if there are enough nurses scheduled at their hospital to care for them when they are submitted?

Nurses have been reporting unsafe staffing conditions for as long as I have been a registered nurse, over 20 years now.  The graph yesterday showed patient care declining while reports of Concern For Safe Staffing forms have risen.  Today’s report card release and decline in “grades” for hospitals in MN supports what nurses have been saying, patients are at risk.

If my daughter’s performance in grades or ranking in her class declined as these have, there would likely be a corrective action plan initiated or maybe even detention.  What’s the consequence for MN hospitals for their decline?  When they spew about how we have some of the greatest healthcare in the country-since when is a “C” considered anything other than average?

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