GREENFIELD — In a recently-released Consumer Reports study, Hancock Regional Hospital was ranked 61st out of 119 hospitals in Indiana, with the Greenfield facility receiving some of the lowest safety scores among Hoosier hospitals its size.
Consumer Reports, a national nonprofit organization that works to provide consumers with product tests and reviews, recently released its annual ratings of hospitals across the United States. The ratings of about 4,000 hospitals include an overall safety score and ratings on a 1-to-5 scale in four other areas — patient outcomes, patient experience, hospital practices and heart surgery — using data gleaned from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Hospital Association and state inpatient databases. Consumer Reports used data from 2014 and 2015 to compile its ratings.
Hancock Regional Hospital, which has 76 beds and employs 188 full-time registered nurses, received a safety score of 52 out of 100. Statewide, the hospital ranks in the middle of facilities studied, with Jay County Hospital scoring 79 at the top of the list and Perry County Memorial Hospital scoring 33 at the bottom. Thirty-six Indiana hospitals did not receive an overall safety score but were rated in other areas of performance.
When compared with seven other hospitals with a similar bed size, Hancock Regional falls near the bottom of the pack. In comparison, Fayette Regional Hospital in Connersville, which holds 75 beds and employs about 139 nurses, received a score of 66 — the highest among similar-sized facilities.
The Greenfield hospital received its lowest scores on the “avoiding death – medical,” section and the “communication about drug information” section, earning a 2 on the 1-to-5 scale in both categories.
The “avoiding death – medical” section measured hospitals’ rate of patients who died within 30 days of being admitted for a heart attack, stroke, heart failure, pneumonia or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, according to the Consumer Reports website.
The highest score on this measure among seven other similarly-sized hospitals was a 3 out of 5, at Major Hospital in Shelbyville and Dearborn County Hospital in Lawrenceburg.
The 2 of 5 score in the “communication about drug information section” reflected that only 80 percent of patients surveyed said staff always or usually explained new medications they were being prescribed or given, according to the Consumer Reports website. Again, similarly-sized hospitals struggled in this area as well, with three other hospitals scoring the same, and one hospital, Dearborn County Hospital in Lawrenceburg, receiving a 1 out of 5 score. At that hospital, only 79 percent of patients surveyed said staff always or usually explained new medications.
Hospital officials acknowledged its lower scoring areas, saying they continue to strive to improve but pointed to other rating entities.
For example, the Leapfrog Group, an independent, national not-for-profit organization that rates about 1,800 hospitals yearly using information submitted by participating hospitals, gave Hancock Regional Hospital an “A” rating.
Rating systems fail to reflect some of the hospital’s positive attributes because of its smaller size, said Hancock Regional Hospital CEO Steve Long.
“We find across rating agencies that we are not a really small hospital, but neither are we a really big hospital,” Long said. “So that means if we have zero instances for something, we may be marked as ‘not yet rated,’ so then we don’t get credit for really great things happening.”
Dr. Mike Fletcher, a member of the Hancock Regional Hospital board of directors, said the hospital’s central-line infection rate provides an example of that situation. The hospital shows “not yet rated” in the “surgical site infection” category, while the hospital has not had any central-line infections, which occur when the site of an IV placement at a central artery becomes infected, since a procedure checklist was established in 2007, Fletcher said.
To provide another example, Long said, Hancock Regional reported only one surgical site infection in 61 procedures performed in 2015 — a statistic 41 percent better than the national average — but received a 3 out of 5 score in the section.
Because the hospital performed comparatively few procedures, despite only reporting one surgical-site infection, its statistics look worse than larger hospitals, he said.
Despite the lower score in the surgical site infection section, the Greenfield hospital received a four out of five — the second-highest score possible — in the category of avoiding infections. The score is a composite based on the data reported on surgical-site infections; infections stemming from Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and clostridium difficile colitis, two types of difficult-to-treat bacterial infections; and infections related to two types of catheters.
While Long said he believes Hancock Regional Hospital is performing well, he said physicians, nurses and staff hold themselves to extremely high standards for improvement.
The hospital strives to be in the top 10 percent of the country’s hospitals, especially in the categories of elements of the patient experience, processes of care and outcomes achieved from treatments physicians provide, Long said.
New benchmarks around community health, a proactive-care mission to provide wellness resources to residents before they have to set foot inside hospital doors, and cost of care are beginning to appear, and the hospital will strive to do well in those areas as well, Long added.
Consumer Reports recently released its hospital ratings, measuring dozens of statistics for hospitals across the country.
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