Local hospitals top surgery rankings - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Local hospitals top surgery rankings

By MIKE PATRICK/Staff writer

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2013 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Kootenai Health has received Consumer Reports' highest rating in the Inland Northwest for Medicare patients undergoing surgery, while Post Falls-based Northwest Specialty Hospital earned the second highest rating possible.

By comparison, no hospitals in the Spokane area matched Kootenai Health's superior rating, and only one, Valley Hospital, received the same rating as Northwest Specialty.

The stellar performance of both Kootenai Health and Northwest Specialty is a win for all North Idahoans, said Northwest Specialty CEO Vaughn Ward.

"We're very proud that patients have access to the best hospitals in Idaho and the best health care in the region," Ward said Wednesday. "That's two great hospitals you have access to. We don't need to leave our backyard to find the best possible health care."

Dr. Tim Quinn, a general surgeon for Kootenai Health, attributed some of KH's ratings success to a project the hospital adopted seven or eight years ago: the National Surgical Quality Improvement Project. Kootenai Health has been Idaho's only NSQUIP hospital.

One of the project's discoveries was a problem with wound infections, he said. Efforts to address those "spilled over" and helped the hospital improve overall.

"We think it's been paying off," Dr. Quinn said. "Our infection rates have really dropped off."

Dr. Quinn said that while the Consumer Reports study focused on Medicare patients, there's reason for non-Medicare patients to pay attention to the ratings.

"They might be the sickest," he said of those included in the study. "If you do well with older, sicker patients, you'll probably do even better with younger, healthier patients."

Asked if the report is evidence that surgical care in Kootenai County is superior to that offered by hospitals just west of the state line, Dr. Quinn chuckled.

"It certainly is encouraging but I'd be hard-pressed to say that," he said. He added that Kootenai Health sends some of its very sickest patients to Spokane-area hospitals, which could contribute to their lower rankings.

In Consumer Reports' analysis of 2,463 hospitals nationwide, as reported in its September edition, facilities were graded at five levels, from "Better" to "Worse." Of 15 Idaho hospitals rated, Kootenai Health, Portneuf Medical Center in Pocatello and St. Luke's Regional Medical Center in Boise all received the highest grade. Northwest Specialty and St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center in Twin Falls both earned the second highest grade, while the 10 remaining hospitals received a middle grade.

In the Spokane area, Deaconess Hospital, Providence Holy Family Hospital, and Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center and Children's Hospital all earned a middle grade.

Ward put Northwest Specialty's credit where he said it's due.

"Our outstanding nursing staff and physicians are extremely proud of the fact that we did receive the highest rating in overall patient experience and satisfaction and probably most important is our near zero percent (0.44 percent) infection rate, which is considerably lower than the regional average," he said.

What's behind surgery ratings

The ratings ... look at how hospitals nationwide compare in avoiding adverse events in Medicare patients during their hospital stay for surgery. Specifically, the ratings are based on the percentage of a hospital's surgery patients who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for their procedure. Research shows those measures are correlated with complications, and some hospitals themselves use this approach to monitor quality...

The analysis looked at Medicare claims data from 2009 through 2011 for patients undergoing 27 categories of common scheduled surgeries. For each hospital, the results for all procedures are combined into an overall surgery rating...

For a full description of our methodology, as well as more information on hospitals, go to ConsumerReports.org/hospitalratings.

- Consumer Reports

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