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Community wins with top-graded hospitals

We were pleased to learn last week that Denton’s two major hospitals earned top scores in safety ratings issued by the nation’s largest self-insured employers, known as The Leapfrog Group.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton and Denton Regional Medical Center both received an “A” grade, the same grade they earned when the last ratings were released in May.

Scores from A to F were given to an estimated 2,539 hospitals across the U.S. with 813 earning an “A,” 661 earning a “B,” 893 a “C,” 150 a “D,” and 22 earning an “F.” Among the 41 Dallas area hospitals, 16 slipped in safety ratings, while nine increased their rankings by one grade or more. Another 16 hospitals maintained the same ratings from the last review six months ago.

“We are extremely proud of this recognition, as it reflects our entire care team’s efforts, from physician to employee to volunteer,” wrote Stan Morton, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton, in an e-mail. “Earning an A from the Leapfrog Group is a testament to the high level of care that everyone at Texas Health Denton provides, and the commitment that we have to serving our community.”

Denton Regional Medical Center was proud to receive an “A” in patient safety on the recently published Leapfrog Hospital Safety Scores, said Caleb O’Rear, chief executive officer at Denton Regional, in an e-mail. “Patient safety is our top priority every day and we do all we can to provide the best possible care to our patients and our community.”

Obviously, there’s a lot more at stake here than just a letter grade. John T. James, a Houston toxicologist and head of an advocacy group called Patient Safety America, estimates that as many as 440,000 Americans die each year as a result of preventable harm while hospitalized.

The Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization, is made up of hundreds of large companies and includes the Dallas-Fort Worth Business Group on Health. It cited James’ findings in its latest report released Wednesday.

“We are burying a population the size of Miami every year from medical errors that can be prevented. A number of hospitals have improved by one or even two grades, indicating hospitals are taking steps toward safer practices, but these efforts aren’t enough,” Leah Binder, president and CEO of the Leapfrog Group, said in a news release. “During this time of rapid health care transformation, it’s vital that we work together to arm patients with the information they need.”

The safety review added two measures to the latest hospital safety score, including catheter-associated urinary tract infections and surgical site infections in the colon. Both are among the most common hospital infections, according to the news release, and claim a combined 18,000 lives each year. The two are among 28 safety measures used to produce the grade indicating the hospital’s overall safety rating. Scores can be viewed online free of charge at A full analysis of the data and the methodology used is also available.

The top marks received by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton and Denton Regional Medical Center are impressive, especially when one surveys grades received by some other institutions, and we congratulate both local hospitals for achieving and maintaining such a high standard of care.

Our community is the ultimate winner.