Hospitals in northeastern and central Pennsylvania fared worse when compared to statewide averages of mortality rates for more than half of 12 common medical conditions and surgical procedures in 2011.
That is according to a report released last week by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) that covers mortality and readmission rates at 157 general acute care and specialty general acute care hospitals in the state.
The procedures in which regional facilities fared worse include congestive heart failure, pneumonia, gallbladder surgery and colorectal procedures.
The 45 hospitals in a 30-county swath of the central and northeastern part of the state reported, on average, higher mortality rates than the state when it came to conditions including abnormal heartbeat, chest pain, congestive heart failure, diabetes, laparoscopic gallbladder removal, kidney and urinary tract infections and infectious pneumonia.
The region's hospitals reported lower rates compared to the state average when it came to colorectal procedures and open gallbladder removal.
The region was on par with the state when it came to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypotension-related fainting and aspiration pneumonia.
When it came to readmission rates for patients who underwent the procedures, after accounting for patient risk, hospitals in the central and northeastern region as a whole had significantly lower rates for six of the conditions: abnormal heartbeat, chest pain, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, hypotension/fainting, and kidney and urinary tract infections. Other reported conditions and procedures showed no significant difference.
Readmission rates statewide showed a statistically significant decrease from 2007 to 2011 for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (from 23.5 percent to 22.1 percent) and congestive heart failure (from 26.9 percent to 25.6 percent), but a significant increase for chest pain (from 10.9 percent to 12.9 percent). The other conditions and procedures showed no significant change.
PHC4's latest hospital performance report documents the progress hospitals have made toward reducing mortality rates and readmissions, said Andy Carter, president of The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
When looking at nine area hospitals primarily serving residents of Luzerne, Lackawanna and Wyoming counties, all had mortality rates that were not significantly different from what was expected based on patient risk and random variation in nine of the 12 categories. Some hospitals, if they didn't perform more than five of the procedures, were not graded.
There were three categories that showed at least one local hospital with mortality rates significantly higher or lower than was expected. They were:
• When it came to kidney and urinary tract infection mortality rates, Regional Hospital of Scranton's data was deemed significantly higher than expected, according to the report.
• When it came to infectious pneumonia, Hazleton General saw a rate significantly lower than expected.
• When it came to aspiration pneumonia, both Wilkes-Barre General and Geisinger Wyoming Valley saw rates significantly lower than expected.
Those two hospitals said the report is a valuable tool not only for patients but the facilities, too.
At Geisinger, we continually track and monitor statistics about patient safety and quality of care, and we are always seeking new ways to improve the environment we offer patients to ensure that it is as safe as possible, noted Matthew Van Stone, a health system spokesman. As always, we will take the information from the PHC4 reports along with that from patient feedback and accreditation surveys and work diligently to enhance the care provided throughout Geisinger Health System.
Wilkes-Barre General issued a statement saying: We are pleased that our quality improvement efforts and focus on quality patient outcomes have been recognized by the PHC4 report. The physicians and staff at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital continually assess our patient care services and work to build on the quality of the care we provide.
To see the report on hospitals in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, go to: www.phc4.org/reports/hpr/11/docs/hpr2011centralnortheast.pdf