11 Investigates: Local Hospitals Receive Grade For Safety

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Hundreds of thousands of people die every year because of mistakes that happen at the hospital.

Consumer Reports has released the safety scores for more than 2,500 hospitals across the country--including hospitals right here in Southern Colorado.

The scores are based on a composite of several key measures of hospital safety: mortality, re-admissions, overuse of CT scans, hospital-acquired infections, and communication.

Of the area hospitals, Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center in La Junta
fared the best, scoring a 68 out of 100. The hospital rated the second best in all of Colorado behind Boulder Community Hospital, which scored 73.

Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo scored 64 out of 100. It was followed closely by Penrose-St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs, which received a score of 61.

St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo scored a 56 out of 100.

Memorial Health Center in Colorado Springs and St. Thomas Moore Hospital in Canon City received the lowest scores of Southern Colorado hospitals, receiving a 44 out of 100.

11 Call For Action investigator Sarah Schwabe looked into what these scores mean.

For Parkview Medical Center, the report says the hospital scored high when it comes to patients avoiding being re-admitted, and lower on patients getting bloodstream infections. Other areas of strength were avoiding surgical-site infections, room cleanliness/quietness and appropriate use of chest and abdominal scanning.

Penrose-St. Francis scored higher for communication between doctors and patients, but had lower marks when it came to patients getting infections. Other areas the hospital received high marks were in avoiding surgical death and otherwise avoiding adverse events in surgical patients.

St. Mary-Corwin also received high marks for communication between doctors and patients, but had low marks for patients dying from complications after surgery. It also received high marks for overall patient experiences.

At Memorial, the report said their strength is patients avoiding re-admission into the hospital. The report gave them a lower grade when it comes to patients who die from complications after surgery, as well as communication about hospital discharge and drug information. Memorial did receive high marks in avoiding adverse events in surgical patients.

Overall, most of these hospitals received high marks for avoiding re-admissions, communication between doctors/nurses and patients, pain control and help from hospital staff.

The president and CEO of Parkview sent 11 News a statement in response to the hospital rankings, saying: "Parkview Medical Center is proud of the accomplishments we have made enhancing patient care and safety. The team at Parkview strives everyday to provide an excellent experience for each of our patients every time they walk into our doors. This report also highlights areas of opportunity for improvement and Parkview is committed to working diligently to make these improvements.

In addition to ranking favorably with Consumer Reports, Parkview has received recent accolades from US News & World Report, Joint Commission, American Heart Association/ American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines, Avatar, HealthGrades and Leapfrog. However, Parkview encourages consumers to not limit themselves to a single “ranking” or “grading” of hospital services, but rather add it to additional resources including talking to a primary care provider and people in their community. There is concern about the differences in scoring methodologies from one report to another. Additionally, consumers should pay attention to the time frame of hospital “scores.” In this case, Consumer Reports, the data is from two years ago.

Finally, In looking for opportunities to improve communications, Parkview has partnered with a company called Incendant. Incendant provides easy to understand videos that are accessible to patients while they are in the hospital, as well as once they are discharged and this information is very valuable in helping each patient understand their health condition."

A spokesperson at Penrose-St. Francis had this to say:

"Consumer Reports ranked Penrose-St. Francis in the top third of Colorado Hospitals in their recently released 2014 hospital ratings. Other ratings organizations have also found the care delivered at Penrose-St. Francis to be excellent, as evidenced by the continuous awards and recognition by organizations such as Healthgrades, Truven, Leapfrog, The Joint Commission and Magnet. For example, Penrose-St. Francis has been recognized as one of Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals for 7 years in a row.

We believe that consumers should use all available tools at their disposal to identify which health care provider is right for them, such as talking with friends and family and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers. The Consumer Reports rating system is one tool of many that consumers should use when making health care decisions."

An official at St. Mary-Corwin released a statement, which says, "St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center recently received national recognition for outstanding quality and safe patient care by two independent organizations. WomenCertified, Inc. awarded the hospital’s Breast Center of Excellence and the Joint Replacement Center with the Women’s Choice Award, which is based on patient satisfaction and high quality scores. Recognition also includes Center of Excellence designations for obstetrics and cardiac care from Cigna, a program that evaluates and recognizes hospitals with positive patient outcomes, as well as meeting specific quality criteria.

The Consumer Reports rating system is one of many tools being used across the country designed to meet the ever-growing consumer demand for tools and information on quality and safe patient care. We believe that consumers should consider available tools at their disposal to identify which health care provider is right for them, including discussions with friends and family and consulting with doctors, nurses and other health care providers. The Consumer Reports rating system is merely one tool of many that consumers could use when making health care decisions."

A spokesperson for Memorial Hospital released this statement: "Memorial Hospital has made tremendous strides in improving patient safety in recent years for which we are very proud. Our hospital readmission rates are among the lowest in the country. Our central-line associated blood stream infections have dropped by 65 percent, well below the national and state baselines. Other safety and quality measures have risen from 88 to 96 percent in the past two years.

Unfortunately, such improvements are not always reflected in reports such as this one, which rely on data from federal sources that may be several years old and incomplete. Consumers now have more access to health information than ever before to become informed advocates in their care. But with this benefit comes the need to do homework, be discerning, and not rely on any single source for making a decision about one’s health."

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