Report ranks two Region 8 hospitals as 'unsafe'

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Consumer Reports gives Harris Hospital in Newport and Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center (PBRMC) some of the lowest safety scores in the country.

The organization gave Harris Hospital a 20 out of 100. PBRMC received a 24.

Consumer Reports based the safety scores on five categories from information collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: a hospital's mortality rates, readmissions, repeated CT scans, infections and how a staff communicates with their patients.

"It's not like it's stuff they haven't seen before," said Doris Peter, the Health Ratings Center director for Consumer Reports. "I think most hospitals are familiar with the information."

According to those categories, Harris Hospital and PBRMC ranked in the bottom ten of nearly 4,000 hospitals.

"They should be looking at these issues and trying to figure out where to make improvements," Peter said.

Peter said both hospitals received this ranking because of their low patient experience scores.

"That's coming from their own patients who go there," Peter said. "They give them a low score in, 'Would you recommend this hospital.'"

Peter said both hospitals also need to improve their infection and readmission rates.

"They can put in quality improvement projects or programs to address those low ratings," Peter said. "In many cases, there are evidence-based procedures the hospitals can use to improve their scores in those areas."

Peter said the hospitals may have more recent data that shows improvement, but it has not been made available to the public.

"A lot of hospitals say, 'Oh, we've improved since then,'" Peter said. "Well, if they have, we will update the ratings with new data when it gets released. We'll see that improvement."

Peter said Consumer Reports investigates topics like this to encourage consumers to protect themselves.

"If you're a resident of that community, that hospital is part of your community and try to be involved in their improvement," Peter said.

Region 8 News reached out to both hospitals Tuesday to get their take on this report. They declined to go on camera, but did release the following statements:

"Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center is dedicated to providing our patients with quality care in a safe environment," a PBRMC spokesperson said. "During the past two years, our hospital has been awarded accreditation as a Chest Pain Center from the Society of Chest Pain Centers and accreditation from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. PBRMC was also the only hospital in the region to be named a Top Performer in Key Quality Measures by The Joint Commission for two years in a row. In order to meet the expectations of these highly respected organizations, PBRMC has continually placed a strong emphasis on the quality and safety of the care we provide. We constantly monitor our quality and safety metrics to identify areas for improvement and work relentlessly to improve our performance and the care offered for our patients. In the last year, the opening of our new hospital campus has also allowed us to implement several measures to enhance the care we offer our community, including specialized processes designed to improve safety and patient satisfaction. We have also devoted resources to improving the experience of the patients who choose our hospital and have already seen progress since the data in this report was collected, in particular effective communication between our staff and patients. As we continue this work, the results of the measures we have implemented recently will be reflected in any updates of future reports. Several organizations, including Consumer Reports, provide online data about hospitals. Many of these tools use different quality measures, performance data and methodologies to calculate scores, which can lead to varying scores for the same hospital.  When choosing a hospital, we encourage consumers to consider a variety of factors including consulting their physician about their individual care plan and looking up safety and quality information from a number of sources."

"Harris Hospital is committed to providing our patients with high quality care and continuously works to improve in all safety metrics," a Harris Hospital spokesperson said. "Last October, our hospital was recognized as a Top Performer on Key Quality Measures by the Joint Commission based on our effective use of evidence based clinical process shown to improve care for certain conditions. We have seen significant progress in a number of metrics such as reducing infections and communication with patients about their medications. This success will be reflected in future updates to public reports. We encourage patients to review reports from a number of sources and to make their healthcare decisions in consultation with their doctor. Consumer Reports is one of numerous organizations providing reports and rankings of hospital performance, each using different quality measures, performance data and methodologies to calculate scores. While quality data reporting is a critical tool for performance improvement, using different combinations and weighting of measures can lead to variation in scores for the same hospital. Improving patient safety and quality care is our highest priority. Through the focus and dedication of our medical staff and employees, we expect to see continued progress here at Harris Hospital."

To view the full report and see how other Region 8 hospitals rank, visit the Consumer Reports website.

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