Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
ALBANY — While the data from www.healthgrades.com look bad, officials at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital say that they are not what they seem to be.
On www.healthgrades.com, Phoebe ranks “worse” in six of 12 categories under the patient safety indicators tab. The validity of those ratings have been questioned by Phoebe officials.
The hospital ranked “worse” for death in procedures where mortality is usually very low, pressure sores or bed sores acquired in the hospital, death following a serious complication after surgery, excessive bruising or bleeding as a consequence of a procedure or surgery, respiratory failure following surgery and deep blood clots in the lungs or legs following surgery.
Phoebe ranked “average” in collapsed lung due to a procedure or surgery in or around the chest, catheter-related bloodstream infections acquired at the hospital, electrolyte and fluid imbalance following surgery, bloodstream infection following surgery and breakdown of the abdominal incision site.
The area in which Phoebe ranked “best” in was hip fracture following surgery.
Dr. Doug Patten, senior vice president of medical affairs at Phoebe, acknowledged that the numbers do look scary, but he said the data are not what they seem on the surface.
Patten pointed out that there are a few facilities that do not have this tab visible on their pages. He contends this is because these hospitals are clients of Healthgrades and are therefore paying to have that information buried.
“We have chosen not to pay money with Healthgrades to monkey with the numbers or hide anything,” he said. “It is a good business model, but it should not be mistaken for a fair and balanced scorecard.”
Kristin Reed, a spokesperson for Healthgrades, said every hospital that meets the minimum threshold is evaluated by the company’s system, regardless of client status, and that there are some adjustments currently being made to make the profiles look more consistent.
“We are in the process of redesigning our hospital pages so that when we add additional information about hospitals for consumers (leadership, services offered), we do not run out of tabs,” she said. “The new site is projected to be launched in April.”
Patten said the Medicare Hospital Compare Quality of Care website would be a more reliable source of information.
“It is based on objective data. There is nothing hidden,” he said. “It gives a better idea (of what the scores are).”
The Medicare Quality of Care site is the same site on which Phoebe was noted for being worse than the national benchmark when it comes to central-line associated bloodstream infections. Of that, Patten said: “Our goal is to get to ‘0.’ We are not there yet, but we are getting closer.
“What we spend our time doing is moving in the right direction on these things.”
According to Healthgrades, patient safety indicators reflect the quality of care at a hospital by measuring how well the hospital prevents potentially avoidable complications and adverse events following surgeries and procedures. Software from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is used to count the actual number of patient safety events and predict the expected number of patient safety incidences likely to occur at a hospital based on such factors as the types of cases treated at that hospital.
Ratings for each of the safety indicators are based on a comparison of the actual number of events to the expected number for that hospital, the website says.
Healthgrades does note that each indicator is rated independently, and some indicators apply to more patients than others. Some patient safety events occur more frequently than others, so as a result the rate of patients affected for each indicator may vary.
There is also a quality and ratings tab that shows this year’s survival and complication ratings for the hospital by a one-star, three-star or five-star system based on actual and predicted figures. The ratings showed Phoebe to be below expected outcomes in several areas including COPD, hip fracture treatment, neurosurgery while in the hospital, pancreatitis, pneumonia, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke, total hip replacement and total knee replacement.
“For lay people to look at that (the star system) and make something of it is difficult,” Patten said. “I don’t fully understand it.”
Phoebe’s ratings for COPD, pneumonia, respiratory failure and sepsis showed an average cost with a longer than average stay.
“When you look at the complicated cases we get referred here, it creates for patients a difficult time recovering,” Patten said of the pneumonia ratings. “The predicted rates are fudge factors at best.
“It is very difficult for someone that doesn’t have all the data (to interpret). It is difficult for people to make judgments.”