LEWISTON — With 11 out of 16 hospitals earning an A rating, Maine once again ranks among the best in the country for hospital safety.

However, one local hospital — Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston — saw its safety scores fall in the past six months, dropping its grade from an A to a B.

“We’re deeply disappointed at the score,” said Alan Harmatz, chief quality and patient safety officer at CMMC. “We’ve gotten straight As the last four years. This year, we fell short.”

The ratings were released Wednesday by The Leapfrog Group, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that tracks health care safety, quality and value. The organization grades hospitals and ranks states on hospital safety twice a year.

With a high percentage of hospitals earning top grades, Maine routinely ranks among the best states in the country. 

In the fall ratings released Wednesday, Maine ranked first in the U.S., with nearly 70 percent of its hospitals earning A’s. Massachusetts ranked second, with just over 60 percent of its hospitals earning A’s.

In general, Maine hospitals’ fall grades were similar to those released last spring. St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington and Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor were among the hospitals that earned A’s once more. Maine Medical Center in Portland and MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta each earned C’s again this fall.

Three hospitals saw their grades change since spring. Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle improved from a B to an A. St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor dropped from a B to a C. And CMMC dropped from an A to a B. 

Although CMMC scored above average in most categories, it scored below average in several, including central line infections, breathing problems after surgery, accidental tears and cuts to patients and incidents of dangerous objects being left in patients’ bodies. 

Some categories involved few patients, which means one or two people made the difference between a low score and a high one.

“Nonetheless, one counts,” Harmatz said. “If you have one person, it counts. So we have taken that view that one or two is one or two. That’s one or two people we could have done, perhaps, better on. We’ve taken that opportunity to heart.”

He said some of The Leapfrog Group’s data were two years old or older, and the hospital had already realized it needed to do better in some areas before grades were released Wednesday. He said CMMC has been working on improving care, protocols, monitoring and awareness in areas of concern.

“Our vision is to provide safe, reliable, high-quality care for every patient every day,” Harmatz said. “That’s what we strive for.” 

To come up with its ratings, The Leapfrog Group looks at 28 measures and uses data from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the American Hospital Association’s Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement.

Very small hospitals and specialty hospitals are not included in the rankings.

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