Tuesday, April 1, 2014


 Even after surgical anesthetics advanced beyond a stiff drink and biting on a stick, people were frightened of hospitals.  They did the math:  too many funerals followed hospital stays.  

How different is it now?  Depends on where you are.  And where the ambulance leaves you.   

Patients in top-rated hospitals  are 34% less likely to die following surgery than similar patients in low-rated hospitals, according to a study by Consumer Reports.

Less likely to die!  It sounds like a mystery novel.  Are we supposed to be considering that when we go down the street or across the country for treatment?  Well, I guess that's what makes us look at cancer recurrence statistics.  But we don't expect the hospital cut down on our future birthdays.

Modern Healthcare this week covered a Consumer Reports study that used statistics from CMS (the center for Medicare and Medicaid services ) to rate hospitals on how likely you are to get out alive, and other variables like how likely you are to have to go back in too soon.   

Less than 40 hospitals got top rating.  Three hospitals in the north scored over 70; three in the south scored under 21.  Since I live in the South, that got my attention.

One tiny ray of hope, pointed out by management of a low-rated hospital, is that some federal agency figures are outdated, and some ratings surely would be better now, due to recent improvements.  

My question is, how were their scores allowed to get so low in the first place?  Didn't any of the locals mention loudly that most patients in a certain hospital were likely to die?  Unnecessarily? When schools or post offices are likely to be closed, the radio is full every single afternoon with protests.  But I don't hear any broadcasts about hospitals!   

Maybe a clue is in a clinic scene in the the John Lescroart book I'm reading:  ". . . Luz didn't want to risk getting anyone mad at her."  If it's the only hospital in town, and you might have to go there someday. . . 

That's why I didn't raise more of a fuss about some things in post-op rehab;  I couldn't get out of bed alone, much less walk out the door in a huff.  My comfort was in their hands.  

My other question is, has anybody in the low rated hospitals called anybody in the high rated hospitals to ask how they do it?    Has that ever happened in the history of hospitals?   Yes, I think it happened in deLee's hospital in the 19th or early 20th century.

 Modern Healthcare credits Dr. John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health as saying:  " .simple policy changes can make a significant difference, but leadership has to make safety a priority. 

“In high performing hospitals,"  he said."
I often find the CEO has made it clear this is priority No. 1, If the CEO makes this a top priority, it happens, if they don't, it doesn't.” 

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