2007-05-04 / Front Page

Peninsula Hospital Ranks Poorly In Hospital Study

By Miriam Rosenberg

By Miriam Rosenberg

Peninsula Hospital Center earned poor grades last week in an annual report card issued by two nonprofit coalitions that rate all hospitals across the state. The hospital scored below average in six areas of the report related to death rates for certain procedures.

The report card was issued by the Alliance for Quality Health Care and the Niagara Health Quality Coalition and is based on data from the 2005 calendar year. The data used includes diagnoses and procedures, along with information about the patient's medical conditions and discharge status.

The hospitals were graded in four major categories, each with several subcategories. The following is a side-by-side comparison of PHC and St. John's Episcopal Hospital's scores in the major categories.

Peninsula came in worse than the state average in six of the seven areas of "Mortality Indicators for Inpatient Conditions" (death rates). SJEH was below average in three of these areas.

Both hospitals were below average in heart attacks, pneumonia mortality and heart attacks excluding transfers in from another short-term hospital. Peninsula was also below state average in congestive heart failure, acute stroke mortality, and gastrointestinal hemorrhage mortality. In these areas St. John's was rated average. PHC was rated average in hip fracture mortality. St. John's was not graded in this area.

Under the category of "Patient Safety Indicators" both hospitals were rated better than state average in the area of infections due to medical care. In the areas of iatrogenic pneumothorax or collapsed lung, postoperative hip fracture, and postoperative pulmonary embolism or blood clot in the lungs, the two hospitals were given an average grade. St. John's was average in postoperative sepsis or serious infection of the bloodstream caused by toxin-producing bacteria. Peninsula was not graded in this area.

Several of the hospitals that were studied were not graded in all of these categories because they didn't have a sufficient number of cases to study.

Liz Sulik, Peninsula's director of external affairs said the 2005 data on which the report card is based, "does not necessarily or accurately reflect the quality of care provided by the hospital."

She added hospital report cards should be interpreted cautiously and not be the only tool used by patients when they are selecting a hospital.

"For instance, areas such as 'risk adjustment' (demographics, average age of patients and severity of illnesses) have yet to be accurately figured into the reported statistics, i.e., Peninsula Hospital Center treats a large number of elderly and frail nursing home residents which reflects the severity of the illness of our patients."

Sulik continued by saying the hospital is continuously striving to improve its quality of care.

"The Hospital Center has joined the 5,000,000 Lives Campaign implemented by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and developed strategies proven to reduce mortality. A Rapid Response Team has also been implemented throughout the hospital center, along with a number of other initiatives to reduce hospital-acquired infections," said Sulik.

Penny Chin, the director of public relations for St. John's said in an email, "The professional staff of St. John's Episcopal Hospital works continuously to improve their knowledge, skills, and abilities. The results may be seen in its infection control program that works aggressively - and successfully to date - to lower the rate of infection. According to the Niagara Health Quality Coalition's Report Card, the hospitals performed well overall."

SJEH's Sharon Behar, the vice president for regulatory affairs and performance improvement and a registered nurse added, "Although the hospital report card is used as a tool to improve our care, still no single report comprehensively indicates the quality of care at any institution and reports differ based on numerous factors."

She pointed out the indicators for heart attacks "reflect the fact that most of the hospital's patients who require interventional cardiology, which includes cardiac catheterization and stents, are transferred to a facility that performs these advanced procedures.

"The pneumonia mortality indicator reflects the hospital's patient population, many of whom are older and sicker and suffer from multiple conditions, but who may be admitted for pneumonia."

The Alliance for Quality Care includes Niagara Health Quality Coalition and over 30 health providers such as Affinity Health Plan, GHI HMO and Elderplan; businesses such as Fisher-Price, Ford Motor Company and General Motors and consumer groups.

The alliance suggests the public study the report and indicators of any hospital a consumer is interested in. There is also information for the general public on how to interpret the grades. Ratings for all hospitals in New York State and additional information not shown here can be found at http://www.my healthfinder.com/new


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