Thursday, January 27, 2011

OMHS earns Clinical Excellence award

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Thursday, January 27, 2011 12:08 AM CST

HealthGrades named Owensboro Medical Health System a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence for the third straight year on Wednesday, putting the hospital among the top 5 percent in the nation for clinical performance.

The HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study identified hospitals with the best overall clinical performance across all 26 medical diagnoses and procedures that the organization rates. OMHS is among a group of 268 hospitals receiving the award, and one of only two Kentucky hospitals to receive it. St. Elizabeth's in Edgewood was the other.

OMHS is also ranked No. 1 in Kentucky in three specialty areas, according to HealthGrades. They are joint replacement surgery, such as total knee replacements, critical care, which includes treating patients with diagnoses such as blood infection and respiratory failure, and medical treatment of gastrointestinal issues, such as bowel obstruction.

"It's a great validation for us for all the quality initiatives that we're doing," said Dr. Robert Schell, a general and vascular surgeon and chairman of the OMHS Board of Directors Quality and Safety Committee. "It's really nice when we get an award, but we're not doing this for the awards, but because it's the right thing to do.

"It's important that people can come to a hospital where they realize they're going to get quality care and safe care."

HealthGrades is an independent health care ratings organization that studies patient outcomes in about 40 million hospitalization records from about 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in the United States that participate in the Medicare program. It evaluated hospitals solely on clinical outcomes, risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications from 2007-09. Risk-adjusted means patients with like conditions are compared.

Getting the clinical excellence award for the third year placed OMHS among a group of 16 United States hospitals achieving it. It received the Patient Safety Excellence and the Outstanding Patient Experience awards in the past year.

"We use a team concept idea," Schell said. "Everybody has a role to play in creating a culture for quality and safety. We're all working together for the same objective."

In 2002, OMHS' mortality rates were worse than the national average in expected patient outcomes, and the hospital undertook several quality-improvement initiatives, including improving patient outcomes for joint replacements, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, chronic lung disease and the reduction of incidence of infections, blood clots and pressure ulcers from skin breakdown.

"We still have a number of long-term goals," Schell said. "We want to improve our care of stroke and educate the public about getting people having a stroke to get to the hospital quickly.

"We're also looking at improving medication safety because a lot of people across the country are hurt by medication errors. We're working hard to eliminate them in the hospital, and making sure that patients understand what they're on and the dose when they go home."

Schell said electronic record-keeping, which OMHS is moving toward, can help eliminate some errors.