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Maine Hospitals' Safety Scores Again Rank Among Best in Nation

Maine ranks near the top in the country for hospital safety, according to the Leapfrog Group, which has released its latest spring hospital safety rankings.

Maine has held the top slot in these rankings the past four times they’ve been released. This time around, says Leapfrog Group’s Erica Mobley, Vermont took the No. 1 spot for its percentage of hospitals with high safety scores, and Maine dropped to No. 2.

“With 10 of the 16 hospitals that we graded in your state receiving an A,” she says. “But this is still a really strong performance and really great for citizens in your state to know that hospitals are doing so well.”

The safety scores are calculated by assessing medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections in hospitals.

The most recent ranking includes new data, including how well hospital staff communicates with patients, as well as the rate of infections like MRSA. It also provides an estimate for avoidable deaths at each grade level.

“And what we found is that on the whole, D and F hospitals carry a 50 percent greater risk of mortality based on the hospital data that we use in the hospital safety score than an A hospital as whole,” Mobley says.

She says more than 35,000 lives in the US could be saved if all hospitals performed at an A level.

Jeff Austin of the Maine Hospital Association applauds Maine hospitals’ overall performance in these latest rankings. But he says the Leapfrog Group is one of a number of organizations that scores hospitals, and for consumers, it can be challenging to sort through them all to determine where to get care.

“I think the big takeaway for consumers is they should know that hospitals are aware of this. They take this stuff seriously, and they look at it,” he says.

Mobley acknowledges that because Maine is a rural state, many consumers have limited choices for where to get care. She says even grade-A hospitals aren’t perfectly safe, so patients should take steps to protect themselves.

“Things like always asking your care providers to wash their hands. That’s proven to be the most effective way to prevent infection, and it’s something that’s very easy to do, to say, ‘I might have missed this, but can you please wash your hands?’” she says.

Also, Mobley says, patients should bring a list of their medications when they go to the hospital, and bring a family member of friend who can act as an advocate.