May 9, 2013

Maine: first in hospital safety

All but York Hospital – which receives a C – are given A or B grades by a watchdog group.


A new report from a hospital watchdog group ranks Maine first in the nation for hospital safety.


SIXTEEN of the 20 Maine hospitals that received safety scores got A's.

MAINE Medical Center in Portland received a B, while York Hospital of Maine received a C, the lowest grade in the state.

HOSPITALS receiving A's were Cary Medical Center in Caribou; Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston; Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor; Henrietta D. Goodall Hospital in Sanford; Inland Hospital and MaineGeneral Medical Center's Thayer campus, both in Waterville, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth; Mercy Hospital of Portland in Portland; Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick; Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta; Parkview Adventist Medical Center in Brunswick; Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport; Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford; St. Joseph Hospital of Bangor in Bangor; St. Mary's Regional Medical Center of Maine in Lewiston; and The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle.

FRANKLIN Memorial Hospital in Farmington and MaineGeneral Medical Center's Augusta campus got B's. "We're in pretty good company," said Dr. Doug Salvador, Maine Medical Center's vice president of quality and patient safety, referring to B's given to hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.

In the report released Wednesday by Leapfrog, 80 percent of Maine's hospitals earned A's for safety, a larger percentage than in any other state. Among more than 2,500 hospitals across the country that received grades, only 31 percent got A's.

Of the 20 Maine hospitals that were ranked, 16 got A's, three got B's, and one -- York Hospital of Maine -- received a C.

Leapfrog, a nonprofit group supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says it works to drive down health care costs by identifying avoidable mistakes.

In 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that one in four Medicare patients leaves the hospital with medical problems they didn't have when they entered. Hospital errors and injuries cause 180,000 deaths each year, according to Leapfrog.

Twice a year, Leapfrog grades hospitals based on 26 measures of safety, including whether doctors use computer systems to enter their orders, whether a system identifies and address risks, and patient outcomes such as preventable blood infections.

The report says Maine's health care providers are less likely to do harm than their counterparts around the country.

Maine Medical Center in Portland got a B grade from Leapfrog. Dr. Doug Salvador, the hospital's vice president of quality and patient safety, said there is no cause for concern.

"We're in pretty good company," Salvador said, referring to B's given to hospitals such as Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and Yale New Haven Hospital in Connecticut.

Maine Medical Center sees more patients and does more complex surgeries than smaller community hospitals, factors that may have contributed to the lower grade, Salvador said.

"I think it has more to do with types of procedures we do than anything else," he said.

Salvador said Maine Medical Center is always trying to improve, and in many areas has gotten better.

For instance, the hospital's fall and trauma ranking, which was based on data gathered from 2009 to 2011, has improved significantly, he said.

"Can we do better? Of course we can. We are a safe hospital and we are proud of our patient safety record," Salvador said.

Maine Medical Center sees more than 30,000 patients a year in the hospital and more than 90,000 patients a year in its emergency room.

Leapfrog is supported by its members, large health care purchasers, including large employers such as Toyota and the University of Michigan, and groups such as the Maine Health Management Coalition. In all, member groups buy health care plans for 34 million Americans.

Leapfrog provides services to hospitals, including the surveys that form the basis of the grades and reports on industry benchmarks.

The grades are based on numeric scores that use data from performance measures of various groups, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The report shows a big drop between Maine and second-ranked Massachusetts, where 70 percent of hospitals received A's, and third-ranked Minnesota, where 46 percent received a top grade.

At the bottom of the rankings are Idaho, Nevada, Kansas and Oregon, with 10 percent each, just ahead of West Virginia, which had 8 percent, and New Mexico, which ranked last with 7 percent. 

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at:


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)