Most Triangle hospitals received top safety marks in a biannual survey conducted by the nonprofit Leapfrog Group.
Leading the region with A grades were UNC Rex Hospital in Raleigh, Duke Raleigh Hospital, WakeMed Cary, Duke Regional Hospital in Durham, Duke University Hospital in Durham, and Johnston Health in Smithfield. WakeMed Raleigh got a B.
Of five hospitals statewide that have consistently received A grades since 2013, four are in the Triangle.
Overall, North Carolina ranked 10th nationwide, with 39 hospitals in the state receiving A grades, equivalent to 49 percent of hospitals. Statewide, four out of 80 hospitals got D grades.
Washington, DC-based Leapfrog issues its safety rankings in the spring and in the fall. The current rankings assess 2,571 hospitals on 30 measures, such as medical errors, accidents, injuries and infections.
Leapfrog is a voluntary assessment program that uses data from its own surveys and from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Across the nation, only three states or territories failed to receive an A for a single hospital: Alaska, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.
The lowest-ranking Triangle hospital was UNC Hospitals, which got a C grade. UNC is also the owner of Rex, which has received straight A’s since the rankings system was created in 2012.
UNC got low scores in “Death from treatable serious complications,” “Collapsed lung” and “Surgical wound splits open.” However, UNC got top grades in “Effective leadership to prevent errors” and other internal processes in place to protect patients.
Rex got perfect scores in the following categories: “Dangerous object left in patient’s body” and “Air or gas bubble in the blood,” and average scores in: “Patient falls” and “Accidental cuts and tears.”
According to Leapfrog, there is a 35 percent higher risk of avoidable death at a C-rated hospital than at an A-rated hospital. The risk at a B-rated hospital is 9 percent higher compared to an A hospital.
However, UNC’s lower grade is a reflection of the hospital’s patient load, said Rex spokesman Alan Wolf. UNC Hospitals treats patients from all 100 counties in the state, including seriously ill patients who are transferred to UNC, he said.