Hospital Mortality Rates Shine Questionable Light on Valley Hospital

August 21, 2008 12:26:06 AM PDT
For the first time ... mortality rates of hospitals across the U.S. are available to the public.And Kaweah Delta hospital in Visalia was the only Valley hospital ranked in the bottom 100 in two out of three patient categories.

The information released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services focused on patients 65 and older and the negative results are not a surprise to Kaweah Delta hospital officials. They've known about this study for the last 4 months.

One of the chief medical officers at Kaweah said that several important factors have skewed the results making the hospital look bad.

Residents in Visalia said they trust the level of care they receive at Kaweah Delta hospital especially when a loved one is suffering from heart or chest pain.

Jennifer Avery from Visalia said: "We just like the fact that we do have some place nearby that really did give some good care."

Corey Franzini from Visalia said: "Our room is right next to the nurse's station so they're always looking after us."

But a study by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid reveals Kaweah Delta had the 8th highest mortality rate in the nation among patients with heart failure over a two year period.

The study also looks at death rates of heart attack and pneumonia victims. Once again the number of patients dying from pneumonia under Kaweah Delta's care ranked in the bottom 100. Vice president Chief medical officer Dr. Mark Garfield said these results don't accurately convey what's really happening.

"The accountability and responsibility would be much clearer if it were the mortality while in our care," said Garfield.

Garfield said the majority of patients in this study were released 5 to 6 days after admission. However the study follows the patients for 30 days.

"Whatever is happening to them, it's happening days to weeks after we discharge them from our care," said Garfield.

But officials who designed this study say the 30 day period gives hospitals a way to assess and improve their quality of care not just for patients in house but after they're discharged.

"We're concerned about what happens after the hospital we know what we do best is control what happens in the hospital," said Garfield.

Despite the unflattering rankings, officials at Kaweah applaud this study and said more information like this should be available to patients to make educated decisions when looking for quality health care.

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Hospital Compare
A quality tool for adults, including people with Medicare
http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov

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Government Study Publicly Unveils Death Rates by Hospital
http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Story?id=5617444&page=1

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