UChicago Medicine Receives 19th A Grade for Hospital Safety

How UChicago Medicine achieved another 'A'

Krista Curell, Esq., BSN, RN, chief integration and transformation officer, and Stephen Weber, MD, chief medical officer, talk about UChicago Medicine's culture of safety and continuous improvement.

Curell: Here at UChicago Medicine, our culture of safety is built on a foundation of trust and transparency, with the singular focus to provide the most outstanding care to our patients. This foundation helped us significantly during the COVID pandemic, as our employees and our physicians and the rest of our clinicians continued to raise concerns and issues and allowed us to be flexible to change our policies and procedures based on the advice we were hearing from our internal experts as well as the ever evolving external regulations across the landscape.

Our clinicians and staff remained open and honest about the challenges they were facing while delivering patient care. This allowed us to frequently adjust our policies to better meet their needs and to ensure that we continue to provide the most outstanding care to our patients. Our providers and staff felt safe during the pandemic and because of that, they were able to concentrate on delivering outstanding patient care, not only to those affected by the virus but all of our patients who needed acute care during the pandemic.

Weber: To achieve this kind of level of performance around patient safety, an organization has to do a few things. First is we need to acknowledge that the care we give is not perfect and so there needs to be relentless pursuit of understanding every day how we can improve to make things a little bit safer for our patients. Second piece is that you need to be transparent about where you're at and the need for continued improvement, to continue to talk about not only our successes, but also the challenges we have in delivering near perfect care.

The last piece is building a culture where everyone understands that safety is not the work of the performance improvement team or the patient safety team or even the clinicians, but it's everybody's business. And challenging people every day to say, what can I do today to make our environment, our care a little bit safer for all of our patients is something that takes years and years to achieve, but also guarantees years and years of success.

The University of Chicago Medicine earned its 19th consecutive A grade in patient safety from industry watchdog The Leapfrog Group, garnering another top mark despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our medical center is one of only 27 acute-care facilities nationwide to have received an A in every report since The Leapfrog Group began its twice-yearly survey in 2012, as the “Straight A” list of hospitals continues to shrink. In Leapfrog’s last survey in fall 2020, UChicago Medicine was one of 29 hospitals to have received consecutive A’s. Two years ago, that number stood at 41 healthcare providers.

“UChicago Medicine’s safety record is a testament to the commitment of our caregivers and support staff to our patients and their families,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago. “This recognition is especially meaningful this spring, following more than a year of pandemic-related challenges faced by healthcare workers across the country.”

About 2,700 U.S. hospitals are rated annually by The Leapfrog Group based on their performance in preventing medical errors, infections and other harms. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade involves an analysis of up to 27 publicly available measures, including those from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and others. To see more details on UChicago Medicine’s performance and to access other information, visit hospitalsafetygrade.org.

“Our focus on providing outstanding care to our patients is founded on our culture of safety, trust and transparency,” said Thomas Jackiewicz, president of the University of Chicago Medical Center and chief operating officer of the UChicago Medicine health system.