Scripps Hospitals Earn High Marks in Landmark National Health Care Survey

Scripps Hospitals Score Well on Cardiac Services

Scripps hospitals scored well in the first year of an ongoing national survey looking at areas that will improve health care quality and reduce medical errors. The Leapfrog Group, a consortium of health care purchasers created by The Business Roundtable, conducted the survey. The group’s goals are to recognize and reward hospitals for advances in patient safety and to educate the public about the efforts hospitals are taking to improve the quality of medical care.

Leapfrog selected three areas in which to measure “leaps” in patient safety and asked hospitals in five regions around the country – including California – to participate. Participation was voluntary. Leapfrog asked:

  • Whether hospitals meet recommended volume thresholds for certain procedures.
  • Whether hospitals have installed or plan to install computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems, which allow physicians to enter medication orders via computers using error-prevention software.
  • Whether hospitals staff or plan to staff the Intensive Care Units (ICU) with trained specialists called “intensivists.”

Scripps President and CEO Chris Van Gorder said participating in the Leapfrog survey is important not only for Scripps, but for the entire health care industry and the communities it serves.

“Scripps fully supports the Leapfrog Group’s goals of reducing medical errors. Nothing a hospital system can do is more important than ensuring the safety of our patients,” Van Gorder said. “Scripps is proud of our performance in this first survey and as a result of the aggressive efforts we are taking across our system through our Pursuing Perfection Initiative we expect to perform even better in future Leapfrog surveys.”

Scripps has been awarded a Phase I Grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for Pursuing Perfection – a Scripps systemwide initiative which aims to implement many of the same measures Leapfrog has suggested. As a result of that initiative, Scripps is one of only two finalists in California for the Phase II R.W. Johnson grant.

In the area of high-risk surgical procedures, Scripps hospitals topped the lists for coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) Surgery, which restores blood flow to the heart, and coronary angioplasty, which improves blood flow to the heart. Scripps La Jolla was the only hospital in San Diego County to exceed the minimum recommended procedures for CABG surgery, performing 518 last year. Leapfrog set the minimum at 500.

Scripps La Jolla also topped the list for coronary angioplasty with 1,822 last year, far above the minimum 400 set by Leapfrog. Scripps Green and Scripps Mercy also exceeded Leapfrog’s standards, performing 1,115 and 504, respectively.

Scripps Green also exceeded Leapfrog’s standard in abdominal aortic aneurysm repair. Leapfrog is looking at the amount of experience a hospital has in performing certain surgeries. Scripps Green performed 32 such procedures last year.

Leapfrog also asked hospitals to provide information about the number of infants cared for in neonatal intensive care units (NICU’s). Scripps offers NICU care at Scripps Mercy, Scripps La Jolla and Scripps Chula Vista. The NICU at Scripps La Jolla is operated jointly with Children’s Hospital and Health Center, one of the facilities that exceeds Leapfrog’s minimum daily census.

Scripps is currently rolling out a CPOE program at each of its five hospitals, with the entire system fully operational within three years. Scripps Mercy Hospital in Hillcrest will have the system in place by January 2004, followed by Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla in April 2004, Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas in July 2004, Scripps Memorial Hospital Chula Vista in October 2004 and Scripps Green Hospital in January 2005.

On the issue of ICU staffing by intensivists, Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla meets the Leapfrog standard with dedicated intensivists in the Green ICU. All other Scripps hospitals provide 24-hour coverage by trained physicians through their emergency department staff.

“Scripps believes that leaps in quality are possible in today’s health care system,” said Brent Eastman, M.D., Scripps Chief Medical Officer. “Initiatives such as Leapfrog are important not only for encouraging hospitals to make quality improvements, but perhaps more importantly fostering open and honest dialogue between hospitals, physicians, patients, payers and the public.”

Results for all the regions surveyed can be found at

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Janice Collins
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