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Area hospitals grade well

Published: Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Area hospitals fared well in two recent national reports focused on patient care, procedures and safety conditions inside those facilities.

The hospital safety scores and report cards released in October show mostly positive results in individual categories for health care facilities serving the McHenry County area – the majority on par with others, but in some cases, slightly below or above. 

Hospitals in Woodstock, McHenry, Barrington, Libertyville and Elgin received “A” grades in the fall update to the Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Score, which rates how well institutions nationally protect patients from accidents, errors, injuries and infections.

Of the 2,539 general hospitals issued a Hospital Safety Score, 813 earned an “A,” 661 earned a “B,” 839 earned a “C,” 150 earned a “D,” and 22 earned an “F.”

“We want to provide the best possible care for our community,” said Dr. Kumar Nathan, vice president of clinical effectiveness at Centegra Health System, which operates the hospitals in Woodstock and McHenry that received an A. “Although our process for improvement is similar at our [McHenry and Woodstock] hospitals, the patients and physicians at each facility deserve individual attention.”

The national research estimates up to 440,000 Americans are dying annually from preventable hospital errors, according to a news release. It puts medical errors as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., underscoring the need for patients to protect themselves and their families from harm, and for hospitals to make patient safety a priority.

The new data show many hospitals are making headway in addressing errors, accidents, injuries and infections that kill or hurt patients, but overall progress is slow. The Hospital Safety Score is calculated under the guidance of the Leapfrog Group Blue Ribbon Expert Panel, with a transparent methodology analyzed in the peer-reviewed Journal of Patient Safety.

The “A” grade for Advocate Health Care hospitals in Barrington, Libertyville and Elgin serves as reassurance that the health system is committed to patient safety.

“We are so committed to being a safe organization that we meet every day, seven days a week, with leaders and associates across the hospital in a ‘daily safety huddle’ to discuss potential issues and how to proactively address them,” said Karen Lambert, president at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. “I am very proud of this national recognition.”

Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, which recently was acquired by Advocate Health Care, also received an “A” rating, along with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville.

“We have been highly focused over the past few years on improving processes to make our health care delivery model more efficient and effective,” said Rick Floyd, president at Advocate Sherman Hospital. “These process improvements are leading to better outcomes and improved health care value for patients.”

Results varied for area health care providers in the “American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Report to the Nation,” which was released by Denver-based Healthgrades Inc. and analyzed about 40 million Medicare patient records from 2010 to 2012 for nearly 4,500 hospitals nationwide.

Healthgrades assigned hospitals a rating – five stars (better than expected), three stars (as expected) and one star being the worst – based on how they handled 31 of the most common inpatient procedures and conditions, such as heart attacks, pneumonia and diabetic emergencies.

Amid the surge of new patients expected to gain health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the report urges consumers to better understand the measures and research used to evaluate hospitals, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

Advocate Good Shepherd, Advocate Sherman, Advocate Condell, Centegra-McHenry, Centegra-Woodstock, Presence Saint Joseph and Mercy-Harvard hospitals received a rating in at least one of the conditions evaluated.

Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital received 14 five-star ratings for in-hospital care of the analyzed conditions or procedures as well 30 days after admission. That included five-star ratings for heart attacks, heart failure, pneumonia, strokes, bowel obstructions, diabetic emergencies and sepsis, among others.

There were no one-star ratings, and in the remaining categories the hospital received ratings, it earned three stars for each.

Centegra-McHenry received five-star ratings in five categories, including heart attacks (in-hospital and within 30 days of care), heart failure, and pneumonia (in hospital and within 30 days of care).  The facility earned a one-star rating for total knee replacement, but three-star ratings in the remaining categories.

Centegra–Woodstock hospital received five-star ratings for both in-hospital and within 30 days of care for a stroke, and three-star ratings for the other conditions or procedures that could be evaluated based on the data they provided.

“If you base it on stars, it doesn’t look good, but for us it is older data that we have already improved upon,” Nathan said. “We have made some difficult decisions and have improved our outcomes tremendously, and there are more changes coming.”  

As a smaller health system, Centegra can also make improvements quicker.

“We can make changes much quickly and effectively to get the outcomes we want,” Nathan said. “Those won’t come up in ratings for a few years, but when they do, you will see that things are even better.”

Advocate Sherman Hospital received six five-star ratings in coronary artery bypass graft surgery, pneumonia, small intestine surgeries (in hospital and within 30 days of care) and colorectal surgeries (in hospital and within 30 days of care). It received one-star ratings for inpatient total knee replacement, spinal fusion, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, and carotid surgery, as well as within 30 days of care diabetic emergencies.

Not all hospitals excel on every condition and procedure, according to Healthgrades. Some hospitals may have several five-star ratings as well as three-star and one-star ratings for other conditions and procedures. This expresses the importance of making hospital-to-hospial comparisons by condition and procedure only and not on an overall score.

View the data at www.heathgrades.com and www.leapfroggroup.org.

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