Many Colorado hospitals miss top grade for patient safety

New website helps consumers check the record

By Ann Imse
Colorado Public News

Prompted by 180,000 unnecessary deaths per year in U.S. hospitals, a new listing of hospital safety scores finds most of the 33 rated in Colorado don’t make the top grade.

The Washington-based Leapfrog Group is dedicated to reducing deaths, infections and injuries in hospitals that should not have occurred. To put pressure on hospitals to reduce such incidents, a group of medical academics pored over data reported to Medicare by the 2,600 US hospitals, and then graded them.

Leapfrog director Leah Binder says about 400 people a day die from hospital infections, errors and accidents. In addition, about 1 million people are injured every year in hospitals.

The grades track such basics as whether hospitals failed to deliver proper medication in time – or at all, said Donna Marshall of the Colorado Business Group on Health. Other problems monitored include the level of nursing staff, giving the wrong blood, deaths from treatable complications, and post-surgery infections and breathing failure.

In Colorado, just 7 hospitals received A’s, 12 received B’s and 14 were given C’s. Details for each hospital can be found at The site was heavily used on Wednesday, its first day open to the public.

Failing grades of D or F were withheld. One hospital in Colorado – Exempla Lutheran in Wheat Ridge – fell in this category. The hospital received a “pending” grade. Marshall said reviewers are giving such hospitals time to improve before being labeled with a failing D or F grade. Calls to Exempla and several other Colorado hospitals were not immediately returned.

“I would have hoped we would have done better” in Colorado, said Marshall, whose group works with a number of hospitals to encourage them to improve, as part of the Leapfrog effort. But with this information now readily available, “we hope consumers will start to shop for care much more carefully.”

Several of the “A” grade hospitals are not in the heavily populated metro Denver region. They include the 49-bed Delta County Memorial Hospital on the Western Slope; St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction; and Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo.

Marshall said it was “outstanding” that the rural hospital in Delta “has such a dedication to excellence.” She also cited University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, noting that it receives “the sickest of the sick” in the state and yet maintained high marks, when academic medical centers elsewhere in the United States did not.

The study did not grade children’s and other specialty and small hospitals, because their work did not match that of the larger, general facilities.

Colorado A-grade hospitals
Centura Health-Porter Adventist Hospital
Delta County Memorial Hospital
Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo
HCA – Rose Medical Center in Denver
HCA – Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lonetree
St. Mary’s Hospital and Medical Center in Grand Junction
University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora

Colorado B-grade hospitals
Centura Health-St. Anthony Central Hospital in Lakewood
Denver Health Medical Center in Denver
Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center in Lafayette
Exempla St. Joseph Hospital in Denver
McKee Medical Center in Loveland
HCA – Medical Center of Aurora
Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland
North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley
Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton
Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins
HCA – Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver
Sterling Regional MedCenter

Colorado C-grade hospitals
Boulder Community Hospital
Centura Health-Avista Adventist Hospital in Louisville
Centura Health-Littleton Adventist Hospital
Centura Health-St. Anthony North in Westminster
Centura Health-Penrose St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs
Centura St. Mary Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo
Centura Parker Adventist Hospital
Community Hospital in Grand Junction
Longmont United Hospital
Memorial Health System in Colorado Springs
HCA – North Suburban Medical Center in Thornton
St. Anthony Summit Medical Center in Frisco
HCA – Swedish Medical Center in Englewood
Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs

Grade “Pending”
Exempla Lutheran in Wheat Ridge


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