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Consumer Reports ranks Oaklawn second-best in nation for patient safety

Oaklawn Hospital is Michigan’s top-rated hospital for protecting patients from harm, and is second-best in the nation for patient safety, according to a new report from Consumer Reports magazine.

The magazine gives Oaklawn Hospital a safety score of 77 points on a 100-point scale, higher than 141 other Michigan hospitals listed.

The score is four points higher than the next high-ranked Michigan hospital, Spectrum Health United Hospital in Greenville, the only other Michigan hospital among the nation’s “top 10.”

Oaklawn’s score ranks just below that of the nation’s highest-rated hospital – Miles Memorial Hospital in Damariscotta, Maine, which received 78 points.

The article, entitled “Survive Your Hospital Stay,” appears in the magazine’s May 2014 issue and on the magazine’s website,

“We’ve worked extremely hard for decades to keep high-quality care and patient safety our most valued goals,” said Ginger Williams, Oaklawn’s President and CEO. “So it’s truly gratifying for Oaklawn and the communities we serve that our efforts are being noticed – and singled out.

“Every day, our staff goes ‘above and beyond’ to provide the right care to the right person at the right time in the right setting,” she said. “That effort itself creates an atmosphere of safety, which is a fundamental part of providing care.

“This recognition is a superb compliment to the way that Oaklawn’s staff always makes the patient experience exceptional,” Williams said.

In 2013, Consumer Reports reported that Oaklawn is among Michigan’s most trustworthy hospitals for safe surgical services, earning a place among the top 20 percent of Michigan hospitals for surgical safety. That article in the magazine’s September 2013 issue ranked 2,463 acute-care and critical-access hospitals nationwide, 83 of them in Michigan.

The patient-safety rankings released this month were calculated by combining five measures into a single composite score, based on the most recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Three of those measures – mortality, readmissions, and overuse of computed tomography scans – are applicable to patients age 65 and older. The other two – hospital-acquired infections and communication – apply to all adults.

“The differences between high-scoring hospitals and low-scoring ones can be a matter of life and death,” John Santa, M.D., medical director of Consumer Reports Health was quoted as saying in the Consumer Reports article.

“The take-home for doctors is that they should be aware of the quality of care in their own hospitals and those that they refer their patients to,” Doris Peter, associate director of Consumer Reports Health, is quoted as saying in a report by Medscape Medical News.

“The take-home for patients is that there is variation in the quality of care and that they need to look at the data and hold hospitals and doctors accountable. Ask questions. Ask what the hospital is doing to improve in these areas,” she said.

The magazine’s report cites Oaklawn’s recent patient-safety efforts in preventing surgical-site infections, improving doctor-patient and nurse-patient communications, staff helpfulness and room quietness.

Also cited were improvements in avoiding readmissions, avoiding adverse events in surgical patients and improving hospital-discharge communication, pain control and room cleanliness.

A complete breakdown of the ratings and how the rating system was created is available at the magazine’s website.

“Our staff members continually educate themselves about the patient-safety ‘best practices’ medical protocols, which recently were delineated in a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,” said Jane Jones, Oaklawn’s executive director of organizational excellence.

“Such efforts must be persistent because one never knows when that most-at-risk patient might come in the door.”

Oaklawn’s staff has worked diligently to conform to a demanding quality-management standard that includes patient safety among its criteria, Jones said.

That standard, called ISO 9001-2008, is set by the International Organization for Standardization and assures patients of the hospitals’ compliance with the Medicare Conditions of Participation, an internationally recognized indicator of consistent and sustainable quality.

Oaklawn is one of only 54 hospitals in the United States that have ISO certification, a distinction it earned in 2013. Of that number, four are in Michigan.