Cottage Hospital got a “C” grade on a safety report card issued by The Leapfrog Group, a business-backed organization that ranks the quality of hospitals nationwide. Of all California hospitals evaluated by Leapfrog, 37 percent also received C scores. By contrast, Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria received an A, Lompoc Valley Medical Center got a D, and Community Memorial in Ventura a B. Leapfrog issues two report cards a year; in 2014 Cottage received two Cs, in 2013 two Bs, and in 2012, a B and a C.
The organization cites 27 categories by which the public safety of a hospital is measured. In nine of these, Cottage performed below the statewide average; in nine it exceeded the statewide average. Only in two categories — patient falls and number of doctors specially trained for intensive-care patients — did Cottage fall to the level of worst performing hospitals. In deaths from treatable serious complications, Cottage ranked right between the worst and the average.
Cottage spokesperson Maria Zate said, “Patient satisfaction is very important to us, and we encourage patients and families to ask questions about our hospital services and their care.” Zate noted that much of Leapfrog’s information is self-reported and that only about 25 percent of U.S. hospitals participate in the organization’s annual survey. Cottage did not submit 2014-15 data for the Leapfrog report, she said, and so some of the group’s studies are not complete. “We are proud of the quality of care we offer and are committed to continuous monitoring, reporting, and improvement to ensure high standards in our hospitals,” she said.
A spokesperson for the California Hospital Association noted that the number of such rankings has escalated in recent years, often by publications hoping to sell advertising or, in the case of Leapfrog, consulting services. Their methodologies are not clear, she said, and the scores from one ranking agency to another can differ markedly. There’s no evidence, she added, that patients use such studies to shop hospitals; they go where their insurance coverage permits and where their doctor has privileges. To the extent there’s any choice for South Coast patients, it’s often between Cottage and UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center in Los Angeles. UCLA got a C, too.