Oregon Hospitals Rated by Consumer Reports

But patients give hospitals very low scores on medication and discharge planning

August 12, 2009 – Billboards may soon shout out the names of three Oregon hospitals that received the highest scores from a patient satisfaction survey.

Consumer Reports determined that Silverton Hospital, Providence Newberg Medical Center and Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford were in the “better performing group, with very strong scores” after analyzing the data, said Dr. John Santa, director of its Health Ratings Center. Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center also was in the high ranking group.
These hospitals were above average in nurse and physician communication, staff attentiveness, pain control, room and bathroom cleanliness and quietness, according to patient survey data.
Several Oregon hospitals found themselves at the bottom of the rating scale -- Willamette Valley Medical Center, Tuality Hospital, Salem Hospital and Mercy Medical Center. But none were in the “poor category,” Santa said.
This nationwide survey developed over the last decade rated 3,415 hospitals, and was conducted by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services in collaboration with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. A team of statisticians and health experts analyzed the government data to develop the ratings scale. Surveys were given to patients from October 2007 to September 2008.  
After receiving “reliable and robust” data from CMS, “we’ve been working to make this as fair as possible,” said Santa. This is the first time Consumer Reports has provided patient satisfaction ratings.
In Oregon – and throughout the country – patients gave hospitals very low scores when asked if the medical staff had explained new medicines, described possible side effects, and asked about whether they needed help after leaving the hospital or were told about symptoms or health problems they might experience – otherwise known as discharge planning instructions.
“Clearly patients are not getting enough information about new drugs that are being prescribed for them,” Santa said. “When a patient starts a new prescription drug, that’s the time to make sure they fully understand the drug, its side effects, how it interacts with other drugs a patient might be taking, the correct dosing and when to contact a doctor if there’s a problem. While hospitals work to correct this, patients need to be forewarned so they can do everything in their power to get the right hospital staff working with them on their exit strategy -- otherwise their chances of ending up right back in the hospital are increased.”
Hospitals that had above average patient satisfaction ratings had more conservative and less expensive medical care. Those rankings are based on data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care and the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice.
“Our colleagues at Dartmouth have found that patients who live in regions with more intense care – longer hospitalizations and more doctor visits – rated the quality of care lower and vice versa,’ Santa said.
When Consumer Reports culled a list of U.S. teaching hospitals – those rated significantly above the national average and those that were significantly below the average – a similar pattern emerged. “Some of the teaching hospitals that got high marks were also among the ones with more conservative care,” Santa said.
Oregon Health & Science University did not appear on either the top or the bottom of patient ratings by Consumer Reports. Those hospitals landing on the top included Gunderson Lutheran Medical Center (LaCrosse, WI), Mary Hitchcock Memorial Hospital (Lebanon, NH), University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics (Madison, WI) and the University of North Carolina Hospital (Chapel Hill, NC).
Three hospitals in New York which fell to the bottom of the ratings also provided more aggressive care. They were Long Island College Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital Center at Downtown Campus and Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center. 

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Subscribers to www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org can check their local hospitals to see how they stack up. For a limited time, www.ConsumerReportsHealth is also offering a 30-day free trial at www.ConsumerReportsHealth.org/augtrial.


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