Charlotte hospitals' newest safety grades are in. Only two got an A

Two Mecklenburg County hospitals received top marks for patient safety, according to a nonprofit safety watchdog group that released its ratings on Tuesday.

The two hospitals to earn 'A' grades both belong to Atrium Health, formerly Carolinas HealthCare System. The Pineville and University hospitals received those marks from the Leapfrog Group of Washington, D.C.

Overall, that's an improvement from Mecklenburg's fall grades when Pineville was the only hospital which earned an A.

Twice a year, Leapfrog awards hospital safety grades measuring things like problems with surgery, infection prevention, practices to prevent errors and safety problems. The grades are intended to provide guidance on scheduled procedures, like surgery.

In emergency situations, patients are encouraged to go to the nearest hospital to receive care.

Leapfrog said in its spring report it graded about 2,500 hospitals nationwide and 30 percent earned an A. In North Carolina, 31 of 74 received As. None in the state got below a C.

In a statement, Atrium said it focuses on performance improvement to prevent errors. "We are continually evaluating our performance to provide the best possible care for every patient."

Pineville Carolinas HealthCare System
Carolinas HealthCare System (pictured here) and Carolinas HealthCare System - University both earned A grades for patient safety, according to The Leapfrog Group hospital safety grades released Tuesday. -- Carolinas HealthCare System

Three hospitals in Mecklenburg County received B grades — Atrium Health's main Charlotte campus, Carolinas Medical Center, Novant Health's Presbyterian Medical and Matthews Medical centers.

In "problems with surgery," Carolinas Medical Center performed below average for surgical wounds splitting open and accidental cuts and tears, according to Leapfrog. However, the hospital performed above average in the rest of the surgery categories, including for ensuring no dangerous objects are left in a patient's body.

In the same surgery criteria, Presbyterian Medical Center performed below average for ensuring no dangerous objects were left in a patient's body during surgery, preventing collapsed lung and dangerous blood clots, Leapfrog said. Presbyterian performed average for serious breathing problems related to surgery and excelled in other surgical categories.

“Novant Health makes significant efforts to provide safe, quality care to patients," said Tom Zweng, executive vice president and chief medical officer with Novant Health.

Novant Health saw a significant reduction in healthcare-acquired infections across its system in the second half of 2017, Zweng said.

"Nursing and physician attention to consistent compliance with best practices, coupled with assistance from our electronic medical record, have been the primary contributors to these reductions," Zweng said.

In Mecklenburg County, two hospitals received a 'C' grade, Carolinas HealthCare System — Mercy and Novant's Huntersville Medical Center.

Within 50 miles of Charlotte:

  • A grades were awarded to Atrium's NorthEast location in Concord and its Cleveland site, CaroMont Regional Medical Center in Gastonia, Catawba Valley Medical Center in Hickory, FRYE Regional Medical Center in Hickory and Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill.

  • B grades were given to Atrium's Lincoln and Stanly locations.

  • C grades were given to Atrium's Union location in Monroe, Davis Regional Medical Center in Statesville, Iredell Memorial Hospital in Statesville, Lake Norman Regional Medical Center in Mooresville, Rowan Medical Center in Salisbury, and Springs Memorial Hospital in Lancaster, S.C.

Staff writer Deon Roberts contributed.

Cassie Cope: 704-358-5926, @cassielcope