Tuesday, January 24, 2012

OMHS earns 'Distinguished' mark

By Rich Suwanski, Messenger-Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 12:07 AM CST

Owensboro Medical Health System received HealthGrades’ Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence Award for 2012 on Monday, marking the fourth consecutive year the hospital received the designation.

The award put OMHS among the top 5 percent of more than 5,000 nonfederal hospitals nationwide for clinical performance. OMHS and St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood were the only two Kentucky hospitals receiving the award, putting them among 263 top-performing hospitals.

“I’m very pleased that our quality continues to improve because every other hospital, hopefully, has quality that’s improving,” said Dr. Catharine Schmitt, an OB/GYN and chair of the Medical Staff Quality Committee at OMHS. “With the new legislation that hospitals will be paid for performance rather that just billing and getting paid, it is really important for us to improve our quality.”

HealthGrades is a source of health care provider information. HealthGrades evaluates each of the nation’s 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in 26 procedures and diagnoses. HealthGrades hospital quality distinctions are independently created, and no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of evaluation. No hospital pays to be evaluated.

Mortality and complication rates are risk-adjusted, which takes into account differing levels of severity of patient illness at different hospitals, allowing for hospitals to be compared equally. The report is available online at www.healthgrades.com.

OMHS received five-star ratings in the following categories for patients while in the hospital: Back and neck surgery (except spinal fusion), gastrointestinal bleed, heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke and total knee replacement.

Five stars means the better-than-expected outcomes.

OMHS was rated first among Kentucky hospitals for cardiac care, critical care, cardiology, coronary interventional procedures, joint replacement surgery, treatment of gastrointestinal issues, neurosciences and stroke care.

“The most improvement has been in acute heart attack and stroke care,” Schmitt said. “We get people from the door to the emergency room, to the (cardiac catheterization) lab to have a patient’s vessels evaluated and treated much faster (64 minutes) than the national (recommended) average (90 minutes).

“The faster you get them there to prevent permanent damage, the better the results.”

Schmitt said OMHS was also “doing great work” with back and neck surgery.

“It only takes one or two problems in a patient not to get the award,” she said. “So it’s not that we’re home free in any area.

“We have a quality department and peer review committee that look at multiple things. If anything (surfaces) as not being at the best standard of care, we review it so that we can see if there’s a problem with the process, the physicians or the nursing, and find trends before they become problems.”

Unlike other hospital quality studies, HealthGrades evaluates hospitals solely on clinical outcomes: risk-adjusted mortality and in-hospital complications. HealthGrades’ analysis is based on about 40 million Medicare discharges for the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve done this for four years in a row now, which shows that we have excellent quality,” Schmitt said. “It tells people that this is a very safe place to come to, and that the doctors, staff and administration are all working hard to continually improve quality.

“If we do that, it lowers mortality and lowers complication rates and gets people home faster and, hopefully, keeps them home.”

There is an another award OMHS has its sights set on, and that’s becoming one of the top 1 percent of hospitals, which means it must earn the distinguished designation for seven consecutive years.

“It’s a great goal to say we’re one of the top 50 hospitals in the country,” Schmitt said.

Rich Suwanski, 691-7315, or rsuwanski@messenger-inquirer.com