By Sterling Fluharty
In late March, Consumer Reports unveiled its hospital safety ratings and ranked Lovelace Westside Hospital No. 14 in the nation. The magazine rated 2,591 hospitals across the country, including several in New Mexico, according to a news release and the magazine’s website.
In an interview Tuesday, CEO Farron Sneed described “daily safety huddles” that likely contributed to his hospital’s score. Representatives from every department gather for 15 minutes each morning to discuss safety issues raised the previous day, as well as concerns anticipated for the next 24 hours.
Several other policies and practices at the hospital contribute to its overall level of safety.
During the daily utilization review, a multi-disciplinary review team talks about the patients in the hospital and how to care for those patients. Nurses practice bedside reporting, when passing off a patient during shift changes, he said.
Before administering medications or drawing blood in the hospital, a nurse or doctor must ask the patient for his or her name and date of birth, to make sure everyone is identified correctly, he said.
The operating rooms have a time-out protocol, which includes confirming a patient’s identity and then proceeding through a checklist to ensure a safe and smooth procedure, he said.
The rankings are based on data reported by thousands of hospitals across the country.
The magazine measured safety in five categories: mortality, readmissions, overuse of CT scans, hospital-acquired infections and communication.
The figures track patients who die within 30 days after admission to a hospital or while still in the hospital, while readmission tracks patients who return to the hospital within 30 days.
Double orders of CT scans for the same patient, infections from hospital equipment and procedures, and explanations of medications by staff and discharge planning for patients rounded out the ranking methodology.
The hospital received a score of 73 out of 100 possible points. The highest score was 78 and the average score was 51, the magazine reported.
“One observation I’ve made is that when you have staff who are involved in the activities of the organization, they are able to respond with excellent service scores,” Sneed said. “So I attribute it to the communication of the staff and the level of engagement and interest they have in performing their job.”
An analysis published last year in the Journal of Patient Safety, said preventable medical harm in hospitals was a factor in the death of 440,000 patients in U.S. hospitals each year, according to the news release from the magazine.
“Surgical patients in top-rated hospitals are at least 34 percent less likely to die than similar patients in low-rated hospitals,” the release said.
The data used in the ratings came from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.