NJ hospitals slip in safety rankings

BY Leah Mishkin, Correspondent |

In an emergency situation people are usually brought to the closest hospital, but not all of them have perfect scores when it comes to preventing infections, medical errors and other injuries.

“Collectively these mistakes kill over 200,000 people a year and are actually the third leading cause of death behind only cancer and heart disease,” said Erica Mobley, director of operations for The Leapfrog Group.

To keep people informed The Leapfrog Group gives safety grades to hospitals across the country.

“We look at two main categories of information on hospitals. We look at the processes and procedures that a hospital has in place to prevent errors, as well as the rates with which errors have actually occurred,” Mobley said.

The most recent report shows New Jersey dropped nationally from 11th place in fall of 2017 to 17th in spring of 2018 for percentage of ‘A’ graded hospitals in the region.

“Fortunately there are still a lot of facilities in the state of New Jersey that have received an ‘A.’ There are no ‘D’ hospitals and there’s only one ‘F’ hospital,” Mobley said.

Out of 65 hospitals that were graded in the state, 22 received an ‘A.’ That includes Saint Barnabas Medical Center, which the report says is the only hospital in New Jersey to get straight ‘A’s since grading started in 2012.

“They have a computerized system to enter medications that has intelligence built into it to alert the prescriber before they accidentally, for example, prescribe an adult dosage to a pediatric patient. They also have a lot of leadership and nursing focus around safety. And they have some strong communication between doctors, nurses and patients,” Mobley said.

Stephen Zieniewicz is the president and CEO at Saint Barnabas, which is an underwriter of NJTV News. He told us they’ve built a culture where people feel they can bring forward any safety concerns.

“We have in place a daily safety briefing that occurs seven days a week at 8:30 in the morning. It’s an opportunity for about 30 of our key managers and leaders to come together and to exchange what were potential safety issues from the night before, and if they anticipate any safety issues for the next 24 hours,” Zieniewicz said.


Out of roughly 2,500 hospitals ranked nationally in the report, only 22 received an ‘F.’ University Hospital in Newark is one them.

“We see that they had a very high rate of foreign objects left in after surgery. They had a high rate of some of the infections that we look at, particularly central line associated bloodstream infections. These are infections that patients can acquire in a hospital that can very often be fatal if they’re not caught and treated immediately,” Mobley said.

Mobley says the hospital also had a lot of challenges with communication regarding things like medication and discharge instructions. Several calls were placed to University Hospital for a comment, but none were returned.