TAMPA BAY, Florida - A handful of local hospitals are once again celebrating some of the best mortality statistics in the country.
Newly-released data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reveals mortality and re-admission rates for more than 4,600 hospitals nationwide. Statistics track patients who were admitted for heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia.
The only Bay-area hospital to perform well-above the national average in three of six categories was Sarasota Memorial Hospital, with a better-than-average mortality rate for heart attacks, readmission rates for heart attacks, and readmission rates for heart failures. It also excelled in several other measures.
Mease Hospital (Dunedin), Mease Countryside Hospital (Safety Harbor), Morton Plant Hospital (Clearwater), Palms of Pasadena Hospital (St. Petersburg), and Venice Regional Medical Center also performed better than the national average in most categories.
USA Today: 4,600 US hospitals ranked
"We really need to need to re-think the way we make our healthcare choices," said USAToday Reporter Steve Sternberg, who helped compile the report. "When I moved into my neighborhood, I drove around with a realtor and got to know the schools, I got to know the shopping...I sure wanted to know how the hospital down the block was performing."
Sternberg recommends researching hospitals now so you can made educated decisions in the event of an emergency.
Local hospitals that fared well-below national averages in multiple categories include: Manatee Memorial Hospital (Bradenton), which had poor heart attack and heart failure mortality rates; Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center (Crystal River), which had poor heart attack and pneumonia mortality rates; and Citrus Memorial Hospital (Inverness), which also had poor heart attack and pneumonia mortality rates.
Seven Rivers Regional told 10 News through a statement that it has undergone "a comprehensive quality improvement plan" over the last few years across all spectrums of care.
The hospital has implemented numerous processes to be proactive with ensuring specific core measures are met (e.g., educating patients on the pneumonia and influenza vaccines, smoking cessation counseling and more)," said Dorothy Pernu, spokesman for Seven Rivers Regional.
Pernu added that internal data from recent months indicates the hospital is improving in the aforementioned categories. Data from the CMR report was averaged from the second quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2010.
At Citrus Memorial Hospital, a spokesman suggested the region's higher-than-average median age could be responsible for some of their higher death rates. 31% of Citrus County's population is age 65 or older. In other Bay-area counties, the rates are generally lower: 21% in Pinellas, 12% in Hillsborough, 18% in Polk, 26% in Hernando, and 23% in Manatee. In Sarasota County, 31% of the population is 65 or older and in Highlands County, the number is 32%. The state average is 17%.
"(Old age) is really not a great excuse for having high death rates," Sternberg said. "(The system) is not perfect and there's nobody who will say it is. There are some excellently-performing hospitals that don't look as good as maybe their reputations hold them to be because they have much sicker patients than average. But on average, this is about the best yardstick of healthcare in the country you're going to find."
A spokesman for Citrus Memorial added an increase in education about pneumonia vaccines has helped the community improve its overall health. The hospital offers flu and pneumonia shots starting September 19 (352-344-6513 for more information).
Representatives from Manatee Memorial Hospital did not return numerous requests for comment.
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