San Joaquin General Hospital receives poor safety grades from national nonprofit

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FRENCH CAMP, Calif. (KTXL) -- San Joaquin General Hospital received low grades from a national nonprofit organization citing safety concerns for patients.

The Leapfrog Group is a national nonprofit organization that grades hospitals across the country.

San Joaquin General Hospital received a "D" grade. The organization said the low grade is cause for concern.

FOX40 reached out to the hospital's CEO David Culberson about the below-average grade.

"It’s an opportunity for us to really look closely at what we’re doing here. We do serve the neediest patients here in the area as a safety net hospital and we’re really making sure that we use all the data we get here that measures what we do to improve patient safety and outcomes," said San Joaquin Culberson said.

The hospital scored below average in basic safety practices and in four out of five categories concerning patients contracting infections. They are problems the hospital said it is actively addressing.

"We've got a full-time infection control practitioner, both a nurse, as well as a MD, a physician, who is working with all of our physicians to watch for occurrences,"  Culberson explained.

Culberson also told FOX40 the hospital made a substantial investment into a new computer system that has already improved patient safety regarding medications.

"We found that errors do occur when you’re trying to order from a handwritten note or from a verbal order and so we’re really trying to get almost all the orders except for the truly emergent ones in a computer entry. And that’s going to eliminate errors in prescribing dosing and the route of administration," said Culberson.

Leapfrog reports patients at "D" or "F" graded hospitals face a 92% greater risk of avoidable death.

But despite the subpar grade, Culberson said he is confident in the hospital's patient care.

"We've got very dedicated physicians here, very dedication infection control practitioners. Very confident that the public is going to receive good care but also realizing that if there are things that we can work on, we certainly will," he told FOX40.

San Joaquin County EMS Administrator Dan Burch sent FOX40 the following statement regarding the credibility of The Leapfrog's Group grading system:

The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade is not a recognized hospital accrediting organization such as the Joint Commission or the American College of Surgeons – Committee on Trauma. The Joint Commission and ACS-COT conduct in person site survey evaluations of hospitals using qualified examiners and are recognized as accrediting organizations by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid and state hospital licensing and designating authorities. As the Leapfrog Group is not a recognized accrediting organization and their reporting methods do not meet the same standards as those accrediting bodies it is unclear on how we or the general public should interpret Leapfrog’s rating system. San Joaquin General Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission and verified as a Level III trauma center by the ACS and is San Joaquin County’s designated trauma center.

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