Saint Michael's Medical Center and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center earned As while University Hospital earned a D in the latest hospital safety report released today by The Leapfrog Group.

An "A" grade recognizes a hospital's efforts to protect patients from harm and meet the highest safety standards in the country, according to Leapfrog, which provides health care quality and safety information for consumers.

Saint Michael's and Beth Israel were among 855 hospitals across the United States and 38 in New Jersey awarded an A by Leapfrog in the Fall 2018. In the Spring 2018 report, none of Newark's hospitals earned an A.

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"This ranking provides an important resource for patients, and a benchmark for hospitals, to determine how care at one hospital compares to others in a region,” said Leah Binder, president and CEO of The Leapfrog Group. 

“Hospitals that earn an A Hospital Safety Grade deserve to be recognized for their efforts in preventing medical harm and errors,” Binder said.

Since 2012, Leapfrog has assigned an A, B, C, D or F Hospital Safety Grade to hospitals twice a year based on their performance in preventing accidents, injuries and errors to patients.

Beth Israel's grade rose to an A from a B in the Spring 2018 report.

"Receiving an 'A' grade from the Leapfrog Group is a reflection of our steadfast commitment to safety and the delivery of excellent patient care," said Darrell K. Terry Sr., the president and CEO of Beth Israel Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of New Jersey.

"Safety is truly a part of our DNA, and we are continually evaluating our processes and refining our initiatives to ensure that we are providing the highest quality, safest care to our patients and their families," Terry said.

For Saint Michael's, the turnaround is even more dramatic. In the Spring of 2016, the hospital received an F. At the time, the hospital was in bankruptcy and in the process of being sold to Prime Healthcare, a California-based for-profit healthcare system.

Saint Michael’s CEO Robert Iannaccone said because of the precarious financial condition of the hospital prior to the sale to Prime Healthcare, the previous owners of Saint Michael’s stopped submitting surveys to Leapfrog Group, which resulted in the failing grade.

Since the sale to Prime closed in May 2016, the hospital's grades improved every year, rising to a D in the Fall of 2016, then to a C in the Fall of 2017.

"Under Prime Healthcare’s ownership, Saint Michael’s had the resources needed to achieve an entirely new level of intense focus on patient quality and safety,” Iannaccone said. “From the moment Prime Healthcare took ownership of the hospital, patient safety and continuous quality improvement were the top priority.”

University Hospital's grade rose from an F in the Spring to a D. The F grade from Leapfrog along with a downgrading in its bond rating prompted Gov. Phil Murphy in July to appoint Judy Persichilli as a state monitor to over see the hospital. Persichilli has broad authority to assess the level of care provided by the hospital and to gain a deeper understanding of the financial affairs of the hospital.

In October, the state Department of Health (DOH) found major infection control deficiencies while it investigated four cases of a bacterial infection at University Hospital's neonatal intensive care unit. The state became aware of the infection after a premature baby who received care at the hospital and had the bacteria died at the end of September. The exact cause of death is being investigated due to other compounding medical issues.

"University Hospital knows that patient trust is built upon the quality and safety of care we provide," said Dr. Lawrence Ramunno, chief medical officer at University Hospital. "Our new Leapfrog grade shows that we are headed in the right direction as a result of our focus on building a culture of safety and implementing new quality initiatives over the past 18 months.

"It also confirms our continued need for safer, more effective, and more consistent processes for creating the best patient experience possible," Ramunno said. "We know this won’t happen overnight, but we are fully committed to providing quality health care to the Newark community, and we won’t be satisfied until we receive an A."