Report: Patient safety low in Valley hospitals

Kaweah Delta Medical Center in VisaliaKaweah Delta Medical Center in VisaliaSeveral Valley hospitals appeared low on a list of patient safety, according to a report by Consumer Reports magazine.

The analysis includes information from government and independent sources on 1,159 hospitals in 44 states on readmission rates, infections, communication, CT scanning, complications and mortality rates.

Adventist Medical Center in Hanford received the lowest patient safety score in California with 25 points out of 100 and CT scanning rated as the poorest determinant.

Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia was also rated poorly with a score of 29, behind Clovis Community Medical Center, which scored 39, and Saint Agnes Medical Center scoring 41.

Much of the information used in the report, however, is limited and does not take into account how successful hospitals are at treating medical conditions or certain improvements made in the last few years.

"While we commend Consumer Reports for its efforts, the report does have its short-comings," said Mark Garfield, chief medical officer for Kaweah Delta Health Care District, in a statement. "We are accountable for and committed to patient safety. When we become aware of opportunities to improve, we immediately put systems in place to address them. We are confident that when the next wave of data is released, improvements will be evident."

John Zelezny, senior vice president of communications with Community Medical Centers, said there are many surveys that attempt to measure patient safety. He noted that while each is instructive and well-meaning, they are also imperfect and potentially misleading.

"Our Community Medical Centers hospitals are all fully accredited by the Joint Commission, which looks closely at patient safety," said Zelezny, in a statement.

Calls to the other hospitals mentioned were not immediately returned.

Not all San Joaquin Valley hospitals were on the low end of patient safety, as Bakersfield Heart Hospital scored the highest in California at 68 while Memorial Medical Center in Modesto received a score of 62.

The report cites that infections, surgical mistakes and other medical harm contribute to the deaths of 180,000 hospital patients a year, according to a 2010 report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile, an estimated 290,000 surgical-site infections occur each year in U.S. hospitals.

The report also includes several tips for patients on how to ensure their own safety like taking notes during discharge planning, making sure medical staff wash their hands before procedures and seeing a primary care doctor within 10 days of going home.

The report, which only includes 18 percent of U.S. hospitals, will be published in the August edition of Consumer Reports Magazine.