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Hospitals in the Treasure Coast Fall Short on Ratings

January 20, 2017

According to several sources, hospitals along the Treasure Coast offer only average care at best, and many of them are lacking in significant areas of care.  A watchdog organization, called The Leapfrog Movement, is a non-profit group that collects and analyzes hospital data which they use to expand safety and improve quality in hospitals.  This organization is one of the several entities that has gathered data that has allowed for the unveiling of the flaws in Treasure Coast hospitals.   A second organization that rates these hospitals is Medicare, which uses a scale of 1-5 to rate hospitals, with a higher number correlating with higher performance and/or accomplishments in a certain area.  What is frightening is that people might still go to these local hospitals thinking that they continue to have high ratings, while being unaware of the recent data.  More specific information on three of the Treasure Coast’s largest hospitals can be found below:

Ratings of Treasure Coast Hospitals by Reputable, Unbiased Entities

Martin Memorial

  • Medicare: On a scale of 1-5, Martin Memorial received a dismal 2-star ranking from Medicare with major problems in the areas of safety, readmission, patient experience, and timeliness.  Martin Memorial scored below the national average regarding nurse communication, doctor communication, promptness of help, the staff explaining medications before administering them, room and bathroom cleanliness, and more.
  • Medicare reported that Martin Medical Center had a rating of 1.594, an extremely high rate of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), a very dangerous staph infection, as compared to a 1.0 rate nationally.  Martin Memorial’s infection rate for c-diff, another dangerous hospital acquired infection, is 1.121, and the infection rate for catheter associated urinary tract infections in ICU’s is 1.205.
  • Leapfrog: Leapfrog states that Martin Memorial’s MRSA infection standardized infection ratio (SIR) was 3.270.  This is an alarmingly high rate of infection.  This means that taking into account the types of patients at the hospital, the expected infection rates should be 1 or lower.  Thus, Martin Memorial’s MRSA rate is alarmingly higher than the national benchmark.
  • Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports has a scale of 1-5 which rates hospitals in certain areas.  In the area of avoiding MRSA infections and communicating properly about drug information, Martin Memorial received the lowest score on the scale.  They received a poor score regarding avoiding c-diff infections, avoiding readmissions and communication about hospital discharge.  Even further, Martin Health reported 10 MRSA infections in 124,884 days its patients spent in the hospital between 1/1/15 and 12/31/15.  This is 101% worse than national rates.
  • Health Grove: According to Health Grove, Martin Medical Center has a higher rate of occurrence, as compared with the state ratio, regarding the following: surgical site infections from abdominal hysterectomies, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, central line-associated bloodstream infections in ICU’s, serious blood clots after surgery, and a wound that splits open after surgery on the abdomen.  

St. Lucie Medical Center

  • Medicare: St. Lucie Medical Center received 2 stars from Medicare’s rating, with their negatives being listed as mortality, readmission, and patient experience.   According to patient surveys compiled by Medicare, St. Lucie Medical Center scored below the national average regarding nurse communication, doctor communication, promptness of help, cleanliness of rooms and bathrooms, and more.
  • Leapfrog: They rated St. Lucie Medical Center a B with their weakness listed as being their lack of ICU specialists.
  • Consumer Reports: According to this company, St. Lucie Medical Center received only an average score regarding avoiding c-diff infections.
  • Health Grove: According to Health Grove, St. Lucie Medical Center has a higher rate of occurrence, as compared with the state ratio, regarding the following: c-diff infections, catheter-associated urinary tract infections, accidental cuts and tears from medical treatment, and a wound that splits open after surgery on the abdomen.  

Lawnwood Regional Medical Center

  • Medicare: Lawnwood Regional Medical Center received 2 stars from Medicare’s rating with their minuses being readmission and patient experience.  According to patient surveys compiled by Medicare, Lawnwood Regional scored below the national average regarding nurse communication, doctor communication, promptness of help, the staff explaining medications before administering them, room and bathroom cleanliness and more.  Similarly, Medicare reported that Lawnwood Regional had a rating of 1.235 regarding c-diff events, with 1 being the national benchmark and a lower number being more desirable.
  • Leapfrog:  Leapfrog rated Lawnwood as a C with their weak point being antibiotic-resistant infections.
  • Consumer Reports: According to Consumer Reports, Lawnwood Regional received a poor score regarding avoiding MRSA infections and c-diff infections.  They also received the worst score on the scale regarding avoiding readmissions and communication about drug information.  Even further, Consumer Reports goes on to show that this hospital reported 6 MRSA infections in 97,669 days its patients spent in the hospital between 01/1/15 and 12/31/15, which is 62% worse than national rates.
  • Health Grove: According to Health Grove, Lawnwood Regional Medical Center has a higher rate of occurrence, as compared with the state ratio, regarding the following: c-diff infections, MRSA cases, central line-associated bloodstream infections, serious blood clots after surgery, and a wound that splits open after surgery on the abdomen.  

Overall, these nonpartisan entities work to ensure the betterment of hospitals around the United States.  Leapfrog’s mission is to expose the fact that not every hospital affords the same quality of care to its patients, and they urge the underperforming or inept hospitals to change. Consumer Reports’ mission is to ensure a fairer, safer, and healthier world.  Health Grove uses Graphic’s technology to provide health data.  Interestingly, Jupiter Medical Center received 4 stars from Medicare’s rating, and also received an A from Leapfrog, which suggests that Jupiter Medical Center is doing something different and perhaps safer to earn these ratings.  Hopefully, with further training and changes, the Treasure Coast can rise to the same level of care.  Lastly, it is important to take note that the data provided by these entities doesn’t account for the underreporting or lack of reporting by these hospital in some key areas.

Over the years, various organizations have favorably ranked our local hospitals. But these recent reports confirm hospitals on the Treasure Coast are not performing well in key safety issues, including antibiotic-resistant infections.  From 2004 – 2014, GloriaLaw litigated numerous MRSA cases against Martin Memorial. Those cases were resolved.  Unfortunately, it does not appear Martin Memorial has managed to clean up its hospitals, according to the articles and data compilation from various highly respected governmental, non-profit and investigative entities.

Hospital acquired infections can be prevented, if the correct, current, standard-of-care advancements in infection control are utilized by the hospital.  This requires a managerial and monetary commitment to properly sanitize the hospital. It also requires an infection control team to analyze every infection to determine the origin of the infection. It requires the judicious use of antibiotics and monitoring of antibiotic usage in the hospital.

These reports should be a wake- up call for Treasure Coast residents, who have a right to expect safe care in the hospital, instead of becoming sicker from a hospitalization. This is a minimum expectation that should be an overriding goal for these hospitals for the safety of our community.

Please call my office for a free consultation if you feel that you have been exposed to a hospital error or malpractice.  It is important to protect yourself and your loved ones from this too-often shielded form of harm.

Sources

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-county/2016/12/27/treasure-coast-hospital-ratings/93163754/

http://www.leapfroggroup.org/

https://www.medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html?

http://www.consumerreports.org/health/doctors-hospitals/hospital-ratings.htm

http://hospitals.healthgrove.com/