New Jersey Herald

Area Hospitals Score Well On Annual Report

New Jersey Herald — Wednesday, October 14, 2009

By Herald staff and wire report

Sussex County hospitals earned top scores in the state's annual hospital report.

The sixth annual report released Wednesday measures hospital performance in four treatment categories — heart attack, pneumonia, surgical care and heart failure. It also includes information on patient-safety violations for the first time, in accordance with a state law passed in August.

Heather Howard, commissioner of the state Department of Health and Senior Services, said New Jersey hospitals have improved their performance dramatically since the state's first hospital performance report in 2004. They had a median score of 97 percent for providing recommended heart attack treatment, compared with 90 percent in 2004.

The median score for providing recommended pneumonia treatment was 96 percent, compared with 75 percent in 2004.

The new report was compiled from hospital visits last year.

Eliot Fishman, policy director at the state Department of Health and Senior Services, said the report's data is aimed at improving patient safety and spending less money on avoidable medical complications.

The report allows consumers to make an educated health care decision in a field where they've often had to act on faith, according to Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of the watchdog group New Jersey Citizen Action.

St. Clare's Sussex Borough campus scored 100 percent in the heart attack category, 98 percent in pneumonia, 100 percent in surgical care improvement and 99 percent in heart failure.

Newton Memorial scored 98 percent in heart attack, 96 percent in pneumonia, 96 percent in surgical care improvement and 99 percent in heart failure.

"I would like to credit that to a relentless pursuit of excellence on the part of our nursing and support staff who is working to minimize errors in patient care and do the best we possibly can for our patients at all our facilities," said St. Clare's CEO Les Hirsch.

New to this year's report were 12 measures of serious medical errors to track things that aren't supposed to happen, like hospital-acquired infections, fractures suffered during treatment and the frequency with which foreign objects are left inside surgical patients.
The miscue data is from 2007.

Newton Memorial Hospital scored higher than the state average for obstetric traumas during vaginal delivery with and without instruments.

"The numbers measured and reported in the hospital performance report are very basic. The hospital has a much more extensive quality assurance program that shows excellent results related to obstetrical trauma, which we reported to the state," said Newton Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Medical Affairs David Lazarus in a written statement about that particular data.

"The numbers (overall) are excellent," Lazarus said.

Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, for the first time, scored a 100 in all four major categories.

"Obviously we are extremely proud of the commitment to quality every staff member and physician at Hackettstown Regional Medical Center who achieved such high numbers," said Gene Milton, president and CEO.

The state's complete 2009 Hospital Performance Report is at: http://web.doh.state.nj.us/apps2/hpr/docs/2009/report.pdf.

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