TRAVERSE CITY — Munson Medical Center received a C on a Washington, D.C., nonprofit’s safety grading system.

The Leapfrog Group’s semiannual Hospital Safety Score was released Monday.

“Generally in health care we find that what gets looked at gets better,” said Bret Jackson, President of the Economic Alliance for Michigan, a labor and business economic development group that works with Leapfrog. “What gets watched gets better.”

Munson scored below average in infections and safety problems, including dangerous objects left in patients’ bodies, air or gas bubbles in blood and dangerous bed sores, according to the Hospital Safety Score.

Scores for splitting surgical wounds, blood infections during intensive care unit stays, surgical site infection after colon surgery, and accidental cuts and tears during surgery were also below average.

Munson received above-average scores in categories related to safe surgery follow-up, such as blood clot prevention, safe antibiotic use and catheter removal. See Munson’s and other hospitals’ scores at

Al Pilong, Munson Medical Center president, said he wasn’t aware of ongoing challenges with left-behind objects or bubbles in blood. He said hospital staff address specific issues as they occur.

Bed sores have been a focus of safety programs, Pilong said. He said Munson has more nurses on the floor to manage patients with poor skin condition and started assessing new patients’ skin when they arrive to see if they already have problems.

“Every hospital for decades has been working on this,” Pilong said. “I think what happens is you become more aware of better ways or enhanced technology or resources that are helpful.”

Hospital leaders meet daily to talk about safety, Pilong said. He said the hospital implemented a new system to encourage all Munson staff to voice safety and quality concerns 18 months ago.

The latest safety score uses data from 2013 and 2014. Leapfrog collects data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the American Hospital Association and a Leapfrog Group survey.

Munson didn’t take the survey, which included questions about staffing and safety procedures. Pilong said it takes 140 hours of staff time to complete.

“There’s a lot of different companies out there that look at quality and Leapfrog is one of them,” he said. “I think we’re going to take a look at perhaps completing the survey this next time around.”

Jackson said the Leapfrog survey scores should speak for themselves. Nonprofit researchers developed the scoring system so it’s easy to understand.

Hospitals are graded based on preventable issues, such as infections patients get after surgery.

“These are things that should never happen,” Jackson said. “An object should never be left in a patient’s body. These are errors. These are mistakes.”

Leapfrog doesn’t pit hospitals against each other — they all could receive A grades.

Pilong said he pays some attention to third-party hospital grading systems. He said Munson continually addresses safety concerns.

“I think we are already focused on the important elements of safety and quality for our patients,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to change our course or change our direction. I would say we are extremely vigilant about improving our quality and safety.”

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