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Calvert Memorial Hospital has been ranked first for hospital safety in the Washington, D.C., area by Consumer Reports.

The Prince Frederick hospital received a safety score of 68. Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, Va., followed with a score of 61, and Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center in Woodbridge, Va., received a score of 60.

The rating system used by Consumer Reports is a reflection of multiple factors, such as the likelihood of patients acquiring infections during their stay, the amount of unnecessary re-admissions and mortality, according to the Consumer Reports website.

MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown received a score of 57, ranking it fifth on list of area hospitals.

University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata received a score of 52, ranking it 17th on the list of area hospitals.

“We started a journey back in 2009 where we decided as an organization to drive a culture of safety,” said Susan Dohony, Calvert Memorial Hospital’s chief quality officer.

The hospital launched a campaign to examine individual events rather than just focusing on decreasing the rates of “harm events,” Dohony said.

Even if a hospital has a rate of 0.3 percent, that could mean that five people fell and broke their hip, Dohony said. Even if the rate sounds low, there are people behind each incident whose lives are altered by an unpleasant experience.

“We focus on the story behind each individual event,” she said.

A team of six to 20 people evaluates each incident at Calvert Memorial to determine the cause of each event and ways to keep similar incidents from happening again, she said. Since launching the campaign in 2009, the overall rates of such events have decreased by 70 percent, she said.

The hospital has implemented new technologies to cut down on errors and safety incidents as well. Between 2009 and 2010, the rate of medication errors fell by 47 percent because of a new electronic system. The hospital will continue implementing new technologies for patient safety, like a new electronic health record system.

The highest ranked hospital in the country, the Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont., received a score of 72, just four points higher than Calvert Memorial Hospital, Dohony said.

“We will keep trying,” Dohony said. “It’s not something we’ll stop working on.”

sfleischman@somdnews.com