Of the three low-scoring hospitals mentioned above, only Our Lady of the Resurrection responded to a request for comment. It said the hospital tries to correct problems brought to its attention. In addition, the hospital says it “had only one central-line-associated bloodstream infection over the entire past year” and “zero hospital-acquired conditions for more than seven months.”
Harlem Hospital Center, in New York, another low-scoring hospital, acknowledged that it needed to improve in some areas. It said it is “committed to offering high-quality health care to all New Yorkers regardless of their ability to pay.”
Kings County Hospital Center, in Brooklyn, N.Y., said its patients speak more than 100 languages. Both said they had recently seen drops in rates of infections and double CT scans.
If those improvements are maintained and publicly reported, we will include them in future updated Ratings.
8 things that should never happen in a hospital
There’s never an excuse for operating on the wrong patient or body part. But our medical experts say that several less dramatic events should also never or at least very rarely occur in hospitals. Those include the complications listed below, which are part of our Ratings.
1. Bedsores. These painful wounds, usually on the ankles, back, buttocks, hips, or other bony areas, can develop if a patient is left in one position too long. Frequent repositioning and special pads, cushions, and mattresses can prevent them. If you see early signs, including patches of skin that have reddened, let the nursing staff know.
2. Collapsed lungs. If doctors are not careful, they can puncture the lungs when inserting a catheter or needle into the chest. Your doctor should use an ultrasound as guidance, especially if you’re at high risk because of chronic lung disease.
3. Central venous catheter-related bloodstream infections. A doctor or nurse should make sure that these tubes, used to deliver medicine and nutrients, are kept clean and are removed as soon as they’re no longer necessary.
4. Postoperative hip fractures. To prevent a fall that can break your hip, ask for help when you get out of bed. And don’t take more pain medication than you need or walk if you are groggy.
5. Blood clots after surgery. Some surgeries, such as those to replace a hip or knee, can cause blood clots to form in the legs. Those clots can break loose and travel to the lungs, a deadly complication called a pulmonary embolism. Moving about and walking soon after surgery can help prevent the clots, as can blood thinners and special stockings.
6. Postoperative sepsis. This occurs when a serious infection overwhelms the body, leading to failure of the kidneys, liver, lungs, and other organs. Make sure that everyone who touches you washes their hands and that the hospital follows infection-prevention guidelines. Early signs include either high or low body temperature plus rapid breathing and pulse. Treatment includes measures to rein in the infection and control blood pressure.
7. Opening of a wound after surgery. A wound that opens in the days following an operation is an infection waiting to happen. Ask how to care for your surgical wound, how long it should take to heal, and what to do if it doesn’t.
8. Accidental punctures or cuts. Surgeons can accidentally puncture or cut an organ or blood vessel, which can extend your hospital stay. Finding an experienced, skilled surgeon might reduce the risk.