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How Safe Are Our Hospitals?

Jan 30, 2012

This story was produced in collaboration with

D.C.
Hospital Name Rate of Complications Compared With U.S. Average
Georgetown Worse
George Washington No different
Howard No different
Providence No different
United Medical No different
Sibley Better
Washington Hospital Center Worse

Source: Hospital Compare analysis of October 2008 - June 2010 Medicare records. Missing: Children's National Medical Center. Hospital Compare has no data on patients under age 65.

Virginia
Hospital Name Rate of Complications Compared With U.S. Average
Inova Alexandria No different
Inova Fairfax Worse
Inova Fair Oaks No different
Inoval Mount Vernon No different
Reston No different
Virginia Hospital Center No different

Source: Hospital Compare analysis of October 2008 - June 2010 Medicare records.

Maryland
Hospital Name Rate of Complications Compared With U.S. Average
Doctors Community Hospital Worse
Holy Cross Better
Laurel Regional Average
Montgomery General Worse
Prince George's Worse
Shady Grove Adventist Worse
Southern Maryland Better
Suburban Better
Washington Adventist Worse

Source: Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission analysis of 2010 Medicare and Medicaid claims.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ website, Hospital Compare, began reporting patient safety ratings for thousands of the nation’s hospitals, including those in the Washington area, in October 2011. The ratings evaluated hospitals on serious complications – such as whether a patient contracted a bloodstream infection due to medical treatment, developed a bedsore or experienced an accidental cut or tear during treatment. They also considered rates of several specific medical errors, such as giving patients the wrong type of blood, leaving surgical implements in patients' bodies during surgery and falls that occur during their stay. Hospital Compare shows most hospitals in the country experienced similar rates of complications and errors, but some hospitals, which Medicare officials called “the outliers,” were labeled “worse” or “better” than the national rate based on their overall patient safety records. The evaluations reflect experiences of patients treated between October 2008 and June 2010.

Three hospitals in Washington and northern Virginia were rated “worse” – Georgetown, Inova Fairfax and Washington Hospital Center. One was rated “better” – Sibley Hospital. Georgetown responded, "We believe we are moving in a positive direction when it comes to patient safety." Inova Fairfax said its rating was partly due to some things being inappropriately documented as complications and that it expects a better rating next time. Washington Hospital Center also cited documentation mistakes and said it was "confident there is not a safety or quality issue" at the hospital. Hospital Compare’s patient safety ratings are expected to be updated in July.

Maryland does its own analysis of patient safety data, which can be found on the Health Services Cost Review Commission’s website (under FY 2010, click on “Total PPC Cases and Cost by Hospital, FY 2010”). Washington Adventist, Doctors Community Hospital, Montgomery General and Prince George’s said inappropriate coding led to the "worse" rating they received from the state. These hospitals and Shady Grove Adventist, also given a “worse” rating, said they have worked to fix problems and predicted improvement in the next round of ratings, expected soon.

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