Quality & Safety

South County Health is dedicated to providing you with the highest quality care in a setting mindful of your safety and privacy. We are consistently scrutinizing the quality of the care we provide by participating in patient care initiatives, evaluating outcomes and processes, reviewing performance data and monitoring patient satisfaction both through independent third-party assessment and internal review by our Quality Improvement Team. 

South County Health: A High Reliability Organization

High Reliability Organization

High Reliability Organizations make safety their number one priority, recognizing that even one mistake or system breakdown can have consequences

High Reliability means getting things right each and every time by:

  • Building and sustaining a culture that places safety above any other competing priorities
  • Preventing failure – in processes, policies, technology and people
  • Reducing the probability that errors will occur with a focus on attention to detail, clear communications and questioning attitudes.

The organization-wide goal of an HRO on a journey to high reliability is to have ZERO events of preventable harm to patients or staff. 

Schwartz Center Rounds

Schwartz Rounds

Schwartz Center Rounds offer healthcare providers a regularly scheduled time during their fast-paced work lives to openly and honestly discuss the social and emotional issues they face in caring for patients and families. In contrast to traditional medical rounds, the focus is on the human dimension of medicine. Caregivers have an opportunity to share their experiences, thoughts and feelings on thought-provoking topics drawn from actual patient cases. The premise is that caregivers are better able to make personal connections with patients and colleagues when they have greater insight into their own responses and feelings.

Piloted at Mass General Hospital in 1997, Schwartz Rounds have expanded across the country. Currently, the Schwartz Center Rounds are held at more than 475 sites in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Awards & Recognitions


We participate in the Institute for Healthcare Improvement's 5 Million Lives Campaign, which advocates for standards of care for patients most at risk of infection, complications and adverse outcomes.

South County Hospital has adopted the following 12 recommended interventions:

  • Prevent Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) infection by reliably implementing scientifically proven infection control practices throughout the hospital.
  • Reduce harm from high-alert medications starting with a focus on anticoagulants, sedatives, narcotics and insulin.
  • Reduce surgical complications by reliably implementing the changes in care recommended by the Surgical Care Improvement Project (SCIP).
  • Prevent pressure ulcers by reliably using science-based guidelines for prevention of this common, but serious complication.
  • Deliver reliable, evidence-based care for congestive heart failure to reduce readmissions.
  • Get the Board of Trustee's buy-in on new and leverage processes so that it can be more effective in accelerating the improvement of care.
  • Deploy Rapid Response Teams at the first sign of patient decline -- and before a catastrophic cardiac or respiratory event.
  • Deliver reliable, evidence-based care for acute myocardial infarction to prevent heart attack deaths.
  • Prevent adverse drug events by reconciling patient medications at every transition point in care.
  • Prevent central line infections by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps.
  • Prevent surgical site infections by following a series of steps, including reliable, timely administration of correct perioperative antibiotics.
  • Prevent ventilator-associated pneumonia by implementing a series of interdependent, scientifically grounded steps.

South County Hospital was the first hospital in the state recognized by the American Heart Association for participation in its Get with the Guidelines program. The program outlines standards of care for coronary artery disease and helps ensure continuous improvement in treatment and prevention of heart attacks.

South County Hospital was the first hospital in RI to be designated Baby-Friendly. This mark of excellence encourages and recognizes hospitals and birthing centers that offer an optimal level of care for infant feeding and mother/baby bonding. This is a designation established by the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, which launched the Baby-Friendly initiative in 1991, with the goal of giving mothers the information, confidence, and skills needed to initiate, and continue breastfeeding their babies or safely feed formula. 

South County Health Women & Newborn Care Unit is a Blue Distinction Centers+ for Maternity Care. Our facility demonstrates expertise and a commitment to quality care during vaginal and cesarean section deliveries. We are evaluated on several quality measures, from percentage of deliveries that fall into the category of early elective delivery, to overall patient satisfaction.

Blue Distinction Centers have a proven history of delivering exceptional care and results.  These hospitals have demonstrated quality care, treatment expertise and, overall, better patient results.


Orthopedics Quality & Outcomes Report

South County Hospital received 5-Stars for Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), it was one of   83 hospitals in the country to receive the top rating.

After critics questioned the measurement criteria, the CMS updated the formula used in its Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating program. In December 2016, the CMS released its new results, with South County Hospital now being one of only 83 hospitals in the country to receive the highest possible rating of 5-Stars, and still the only hospital in RI to earn the top score.

The clinical areas that South County Health did best in were safety of care, readmission and patient experience, three areas of significant importance, while still achieving high grades in the other areas of healthcare.

The CMS Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating was created by Medicare to simplify complex criteria that measures healthcare quality so that healthcare consumers can make informed decisions.  While the field of high-quality healthcare systems may have narrowed, South County Health still remains among the top in the country.

South County Health's Cancer Center is accredited with commendation by the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons. Considered to be the gold standard for cancer programs, accreditation by the CoC means patients can be assured they will receive high quality patient-centered care.

Hospitals that earn this accreditation take a multidisciplinary approach to treating cancer as a complex group of diseases that requires consultation among surgeons, medical and radiation oncologists, diagnostic radiologists, pathologists, and other cancer specialists.

When patients receive care at a CoC facility like South County Hospital, they know they will be provided with:

  • Comprehensive, patient-centered care through a multidisciplinary team approach
  • Access to information on a clinical trials and new treatment options
  • Ongoing monitoring of care and lifelong patient follow-up
  • Psycho-social support and survivorship care
  • Continuous quality improvements in patient care. As a CoC accredited program, South County Hospital has demonstrated an important commitment to providing all patients with access to services they need from diagnosis through treatment, rehabilitation, and survivorship care.

Like all CoC-accredited facilities, South County Hospital maintains a Cancer Registry and contributes data to the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), a joint program of the CoC and American Cancer Society. This nationwide oncology outcomes database is the largest clinical disease registry in the world. Data on all types of cancer are tracked and analyzed through the NCDB and used to explore trends in cancer care.

South County Hospital was recently awarded a five-star rating by the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), putting it in the top 7 percent of those surveyed nationwide. 

The star ratings are based on HCAHPS scores. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) added the star ratings to “make it easier for consumers to use the information on the Compare Web sites and spotlight excellence in healthcare quality,” according to the HCAHPS website. Each hospital will have 12 star ratings—one for each of the 11 publicly reported HCAHPS measures, and one as the HCAHPS Summary Star Rating. The Summary Star Rating combines the 11 HCAHPS star ratings into one comprehensive metric.

As of April 16, 3,553 hospitals have a Summary Star Rating ranging from one (the worst) to five (the best) stars. Hospitals must have at least 100 completed surveys in a 12-month period to receive a star rating.

“These star ratings also encourage hospitals and clinicians to strive to continuously improve the patient experience and quality of care delivered to all patients,” said Patrick Conway, MD, acting principle deputy administrator for CMS and deputy administrator for innovation and quality.

The HCAHPS star ratings will be updated each quarter, according to CMS. Find more information here.

South County Hospital is pleased to announce it has been named a 2014 Guardian of Excellence Award winner by Press Ganey Associates Inc. The Guardian of Excellence Award recognizes top performing facilities that consistently achieved the 95th percentile of performance in Employee Engagement.

The Press Ganey Guardian of Excellence Award is a nationally-recognized symbol of achievement in healthcare. Presented annually, the award honors healthcare organizations that consistently sustained performance in the top 5% of all Press Ganey associate organizations for each reporting period during the course of one year.

South County Hospital is the only hospital in Rhode Island that was part of The Society of Critical Care Medicine’s (SCCM) ICU Liberation Campaign, a national collaborative to improve quality of care. As part of the Collaborative, participating hospitals work with a team of leading national and regional experts to target a number of health outcomes, such as optimizing pain control, early recognition of delirium, engaging families in care, and improving early mobilization.

South County Hospital has earned straight A’s for hospital quality and patient safety since 2012. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade was developed under the guidance of an expert panel that reviews hospital safety data to assign A, B, C, D and F grades to more than 2,600 U.S. hospitals twice per year. The grades are calculated by top patient safety experts, peer-reviewed, fully transparent and free to the public.

Some of the areas analyzed by the Leapfrog Group include, inpatient care management, medication safety, maternity care, infections and injuries. South County Hospital is one of only 63 hospitals nationwide to attain the straight A rating and the only hospital in Rhode Island to earn straight A’s since 2012.

South County Hospital participates in the American Nurses Association National Database of Nursing Quality Indicators (NDNQI)®. The program provides opportunity for the ongoing collection of data necessary to assess and improve patients' quality of care.

The leading nurse driven program designed to help hospitals improve the care of older adults. The vision of NICHE is for all patients 65-and-over to be given sensitive and exemplary care. The mission of NICHE is to provide principles and tools to stimulate a change in the culture of healthcare facilities to achieve patient-centered care for older adults.


Specific areas of hospital care are measured and reported to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and The Joint Commission. Having undergone extensive validity and reliability testing, these standards are all endorsed by the National Quality Forum, a voluntary, standard-setting, consensus-building organization representing providers, consumers, purchasers and researchers.

In 2012, South County Hospital achieved Pathway to Excellence designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC).  It is the first hospital in New England to receive this prestigious recognition. The Pathway to Excellence™ designation identifies the elements of work environments where nurses can flourish. The designation substantiates the professional satisfaction of nurses at South County Hospital and identifies it as one of the best places to work.

South County Health endorses The Joint Commission’s 2017 patient safety goals. The Joint Commission is the nation’s predominate standard-setting accrediting body in health care. The goals focus on problems in health care safety and how to solve them and they are:

  • Identify patients correctly
  • Improve staff communication
  • Use medicines safely
  • Use alarms safety
  • Prevent infection
  • Identify patient safety risks
  • Prevent mistakes in surgery

South County Hospital has been named a Pinnacle of Excellence Award® winner by Press Ganey since 2017. The Press Ganey Pinnacle of Excellence Award recognizes top-performing clients from health care organizations nationwide on the basis of extraordinary achievement and consistently high levels of excellence for at least three years in Patient Experience.

You can have extra confidence in choosing South County Health Orthopedics Center for your joint replacement surgery. UnitedHealth Premium® has recognized us as a Total Joint Replacement Specialty Center.

UnitedHealthcare developed this Specialty Center Program to recognize hospitals meeting rigorous quality criteria. The designation is:

  • Based on detailed information about specialized training, practice capabilities and outcomes
  • Designed to help consumers make informed decisions when choosing quality and cost-efficient orthopedic care

To receive this designation for joint replacement centers, we met extensive quality and outcomes criteria based on nationally recognized medical standards and expert advice.

South County Hospital was one of only two hospitals in Rhode Island to receive a 2015, 2016, and 2017 Women’s Choice Award® for outstanding care in obstetrics. This designation is one-of-a-kind and identifies the country’s best healthcare institutions based on female patient satisfaction, clinical excellence, and what women say they want from a hospital. 

“South County Hospital is honored to have received The Women’s Choice Award.”, said Lisa Rameaka, MD, Medical Director of the Women’s Health Service Line at South County Hospital. “It speaks to the high level of patient satisfaction, quality, and personalized care that we strive to provide each woman who receives obstetrical care at South County Hospital. 

The America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics scoring process is unique in that it is the only national list that focuses on female patient satisfaction. The hospitals that qualify for this highly selective designation provide an exceptional level of obstetric services. Scoring is based on patient recommendation scores, as provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) surveys, as well as an analysis that identifies criteria most important to women’s patient satisfaction.

The award recognizes South County Hospital’s safe surgery practices and low rates of complications and infections, based on 11 factors. The Hospital is ranked in the top 16 percent of 3,179 hospitals in the country for patient safety.