As reports of understaffing soar, Minnesota plummets in hospital safety rankings

nursespicket-web22Minnesota plummeted in a nationwide ranking of hospital safety released yesterday, but that came as no surprise to nurses, whose reports of unsafe staffing incidents in hospitals statewide have doubled over the last 12 months.

Minnesota fell from 15th to 32nd in the Hospital Safety Score rankings, based on the percentage of hospitals that receive an “A” grade in each state. Grades are determined using data collected from hospitals, including errors, injuries, accidents, infections and 28 other key patient safety metrics, and they reflect a hospital’s “overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors.”

Just 18 percent of Minnesota hospitals that participated in reporting received an “A” grade, and 17 of 38 hospitals received “C” or “D” grades. Nationwide, 31 percent of reporting hospitals scored an “A” rating for patient safety.

Linda Hamilton, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said the state’s hospitals should be leading – not lagging – when it comes to safe patient care.

“Nurses in Minnesota are saddened that patients in our hospitals are not receiving the care they need,” Hamilton said. “Hospitals need to assure patients that the care they receive isn’t being compromised by financial decisions that affect patient safety.”

The statewide nurses union has seen a major uptick in reports of unsafe staffing since Oct. 27, 2014. The 2,765 Concern for Safe Staffing Forms filed by nurses over that time period is more than double the number filed in the previous 12-month period.

Nurses file Concern for Safe Staffing forms with the MNA to track incidents of hospitals not scheduling enough nurses to meet patients’ needs. Hamilton, a bedside nurse at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, said the reports reflect “only the most critical of situations.”

“Understaffing patient care is dangerous,” she said. “That is why we speak out by calling our managers and by filling out these reports. When these nurse staffing situations become more frequent, patients pay the price.”

The Hospital Safety Score rankings are published twice a year by the Leapfrog Group, an independent nonprofit organization focused on hospital transparency.

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