In preliminary Federal analysis of the track records of the nation’s hospitals, Monroe’s Valley General Hospital had the third-best ranking of 22 hospitals in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties for patient safety.
In an effort to crack down on patient injuries and other “hospital-acquired conditions”, the Federal Government has toughened penalties on hospitals that have the worst rates of patient safety. Those hospitals that fall into the worst-performing quarter of hospitals nation-wide face one percent cuts to their Medicare payments for a year, beginning in October.
Perhaps surprisingly, it is the state’s largest and most prestigious hospitals that are struggling the most with infection rates.
In the three-county area, Harborview Medical Center tied with Swedish Medical Centers at Cherry and First hills for the highest score of 7.73, with lowest scores representing greatest safety.
Northwest Hospital in Seattle had a slightly lower score with 7.6. Those hospitals could face sanctions starting this fall.
Valley General had a score of 4, bested only by St. Francis Community Hospital in Federal Way with a score of 3.05 and Highline Medical Center in Burien, with a score of 2.05.
“Five or lower is good,” said Lisa LaPlante, Chief Quality and Compliance Officer of Valley General Hospital. “We’re at four. Right now, if you look at our clinical outcomes, we do as well as any other facility.”
Concern has risen nationwide as infection rates remain high. In 2012, one in every eight patients got a hospital-acquired condition, according to government estimates. That is especially worrisome, given the appearance of new antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria that are hard to cure.
The favorable results for Valley General Hospital are at odds with rankings put forth by a private ranking firm called LeapFrog.
In 2012, LeapFrog rated Valley General Hospital one of the 25 worst hospitals in America.
But those statistics were misleading, said Michael Fraser, who was serving as an interim CEO at the time.
Valley General offers geriatric care And Alzheimer’s care, which leads to a high rate of falls and skin sores, leading factors in the rankings.
And, said LaPlante, hospitals that filled out LeapFrog’s voluntary questionnaire and reported that they didn’t have full-time “intensivists,” or people specialize in critical care, were automatically given a grade of F.
But small hospitals like Valley General can’t afford full time intensivists, she said.
“Instead, Valley General has hospitalists, who are specialists in internal care, which includes some critical care. That is why more critical patients are sent to places like Providence and Harborview.
This year, Valley General joined half the hospitals in the United States in declining to participate in the LeapFrog survey.