UTHCT does well in new comparison of treatment of patients with pneumonia, heart attacks, and heart failure

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler scored in the top 10 percent of all U.S. hospitals in several measures evaluating treatment of three serious illnesses, according to a new government-sanctioned Web site.

The Hospital Compare Web site is a new tool that enables people to see how well individual hospitals treat pneumonia, heart attacks, and heart failure. It uses 17 criteria of care that define the best treatment for these conditions.

UTHSCT scored in the top 10 percent of hospitals nationwide in two of the five criteria designed to measure quality care for pneumonia patients, according to Hospital Compare. All pneumonia patients, 100 percent, admitted to UTHSCT during the 2004 reporting period were assessed for oxygen therapy. Such evaluation is important, because pneumonia can prevent oxygen from getting in the bloodstream and thus to the body’s cells, which need oxygen to function.

The Health Center also ranked in the top 10 percent of U.S. hospitals in ensuring patients with pneumonia received a pneumoccal vaccination. This vaccination lowers a patient’s risk of developing complications from bacterial pneumonia and can prevent future pneumoccal infections. In two other pneumonia treatment measures, UTHSCT was rated above the national average for hospitals.

In treating heart disease, UTHSCT scored in the top 10 percent of hospitals in giving aspirin to heart attack patients within 24 hours of their arrival. Studies have shown that taking an aspirin when heart attack symptoms begin can help reduce the severity of the attack. All heart-attack patients admitted to UTHSCT, 100 percent, received aspirin within 24 hours of their admittance.

The Health Center ranked above the national average for hospitals in four criteria used to evaluate care for heart attack and heart failure patients. It scored below the national average for hospitals in just one measure, the percentage of heart failure patients given discharge instructions.

“Discharge instructions were given to UTHSCT patients, but often this step was not well documented. UTHSCT now has a plan in place to ensure that not only are discharge instructions documented but the documentation includes all the information heart failure patients need,” said Susan Cresswell, UTHSCT’s director of Quality and Medical Staff Services.

“Public reporting is becoming more and more important. As a health care organization, we want to be responsible to our community. We’re using this information as an opportunity to identify where we can make changes to improve the care of our patients,” she said.

The Hospital Compare Web site was created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Hospital Quality Alliance. The HQA is a public-private partnership that promotes reporting the quality of hospital care. It consists of organizations that represent consumers, hospitals, doctors, employers, hospital accrediting organizations, and federal agencies.

Hospital Compare uses data submitted by 4,200 hospitals in the United States. Each hospital’s data will be updated quarterly; information currently posted on the Web site is from 2004.

“Patients are able to go online and compare data from different hospitals. Although this is a new tool, ultimately publicizing the data will help all hospitals improve. And that’s good for customers,” Cresswell said.

“We encourage consumers to contact hospitals they are considering for their health care and to discuss any questions they might have about the data,” she said.

Hospitals have reported data for these indicators to the HQA since 2003, Cresswell said. In addition, they have reported this information to the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Health Care Organizations for several years.

The Hospital Compare data is available at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov or www.medicare.gov.

NOTICE: Protected health information is subject to electronic disclosure.