Elmhurst Hospital is one of only 36 in the nation to have achieved an A grade in every round of safety testing since the twice-yearly Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades began in 2012.
The Leapfrog Group, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving health care, announced the latest round of safety scores Thursday, showing Elmhurst Hospital once again received the highest mark.
The methods to achieving safety success are technological, architectural and personal, Edward-Elmhurst Health leaders say.
There are robots to deep-clean vacated rooms and a system to track when employees use gel sanitizer or soap and water to disinfect their hands.
There are individual patient rooms -- each with the same design -- built before the hospital opened in June 2011 to provide a consistent environment and make the work of doctors and nurses easier.
There are checklists to complete before each procedure and daily "safety huddles" to bring up any concerns to ensure they are addressed.
Even more important is the hospital's teamwork, culture and patient-first attitude, said Pamela Dunley, president and CEO.
The roughly 3,500 people who work at Elmhurst Hospital all are committed to the same goals for everyone who comes within their care, Dunley said.
"You don't want to get sicker. You want to get better, and we are committed to trying to make that experience one that helps you heal," she said. "We don't sacrifice personal, compassionate care while we're making sure you're safe."
The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades are based on 28 factors that measure a hospital's ability to prevent harm such as inpatient injuries, hospital-acquired infections, surgical mistakes and medication errors. Leapfrog pulls the data from a survey it conducts as well as from public sources such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Scoring an A each time the grades have been handed out means Elmhurst Hospital has remained in the top tier for safety among roughly 2,600 hospitals nationwide that are evaluated each spring and fall.
"It's everyone in the organization using tools and being aware of safety as our highest priority," said Sherri Hill, associate vice president of clinical excellence and patient safety for Edward-Elmhurst Health, a system that formed when Edward and Elmhurst hospitals merged in 2013. "Our leadership team is really committed to zero harm and preventing patient harm."
Hospital leaders, including system CEO Mary Lou Mastro, are promoting an initiative called the Road to Zero Harm, which involves a "Speak Up for Safety" campaign. Employees at any level are encouraged to mention any processes that could be improved or mistakes that could be avoided to help ensure patients are safe in hospital care.
"If you promote people speaking up and finding where there could be risk, then you prevent that for the future," Hill said.
The Road to Zero Harm and other safety initiatives involve large-scale training efforts to promote a "culture of safety" among the system's 8,500 employees and 2,000 physicians with rights to practice at the two hospitals, Hill said.
These efforts have paid off at Edward Hospital as well. Edward scored an A this fall along with an A in seven of the past 11 cycles of Leapfrog Safety Grades, while receiving a B in the others.