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Teaching hospitals not always best for patient safety

Consumer Reports News: June 07, 2011 06:08 AM

When you’re really sick you’re best off in a large teaching hospital in a big city, right? Not necessarily, at least when it comes to patient safety, according to our new hospital Ratings. What they found: While many well-established teaching hospitals do well at preventing potentially deadly hospital-acquired infections, others don’t.

We looked at bloodstream infections that patients developed in intensive-care units while on central-line catheters, or tubes used to deliver fluids, medication, and nutrition to patients. The data came either from one of the 18 states that publicly report hospital-infection rates, or from The Leapfrog Group a nonprofit organization in Washington, D.C., that focuses on improving health care in hospitals.

We focused on hospitals that are members of the Council of Teaching Hospitals, and found they showed no improvement, overall, compared with last year’s report in the number that reported zero infections. “Most of us think of teaching hospitals as setting the standard for the right way to do things, so it’s surprising to see so many teaching hospitals near the bottom of the list,” said John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Three teaching hospitals got our lowest Rating in preventing bloodstream infections: Saint Louis University Hospital, Saint Louis, Mo.; Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, N.Y.; and Regional Medical Center at Memphis, Memphis, Tenn. In addition, 64 hospitals got our second lowest Rating. For details, see the list below.

Bottom Line: Research has repeatedly shown that hospitals, even large urban ones, can dramatically reduce and even eliminate central-line infections. While the steps to preventing those infections are simple, hospitals are complex places with lots of people and multiple teams. For the process to work, each individual has to make a commitment to perform each step each time, and have the courage to correct their colleague when they see an error has been made.

You need to be part of that team, too. For tips on how, see our hospital survival guide, which includes advice on how to stay safe in the hospital, from check-in to discharge.

Here are the teaching hospitals that got our second-lowest Rating at preventing bloodstream infections. (Listed alphabetically by city and state.)
• Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center, Phoenix, Ariz.
• City of Hope’s Helford Clinical Research Hospital, Duarte, Calif.
• Community Regional Medical Center, Fresno, Calif.
• Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda, Calif.
• USC University Hospital, Los Angeles, Calif.
• Oakland Medical Center, Oakland, Calif.
• University of California, Irvine Healthcare, Orange, Calif.
• University of California, Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, Calif.
• LAC-Harbor-University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center, Torrance, Calif.
• The Children’s Hospital, Aurora, Col.
• University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, Col.
• University of Connecticut Health Center, John Dempsey Hospital, Farmington, Conn.
• Hospital of Saint Raphael, New Haven, Conn.
• Christiana Care Health System, Newark, Del.
• Orlando Regional Medical Center, Orlando, Fla.
• Atlanta Medical Center, Atlanta, Ga.
• Memorial Health, Savannah, Ga.
• Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago, Ill.
• Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, Ill.
• St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, Ill.
• St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, Indianapolis, Ind.
• Tufts Medical Center, Boston, Mass.
• Cambridge Health Alliance, Cambridge, Mass.
• Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore, Md.
• University of Maryland Medical Center, Baltimore, Md.
• Holy Cross Hospital, Silver Spring, Md.
• Maine Medical Center, Portland, Maine
• SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, Saint Louis, Mo.
• St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, Saint Louis, Mo.
• Creighton University Medical Center, Omaha, Neb.
• North Carolina Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center), Winston-Salem, N.C.
• Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, N.J.
• Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, New Brunswick, N.J.
• Jacobi Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y.
• Brooklyn Hospital Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• Coney Island Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• SUNY Downstate Medical Center University Hospital of Brooklyn, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• Kings County Hospital Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
• KALEIDA Health, Buffalo, N.Y.
• Queens Hospital Center, Jamaica, N.Y.
• Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.
• Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, N.Y.
• Harlem Hospital Center, New York, N.Y.
• Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, N.Y
• NYU Langone Medical Center, New York, N.Y.
• Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, N.Y.
• St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York, N.Y.
• Strong Memorial Hospital of the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y.
• Stony Brook University Medical Center, Stony Brook, NY
• Westchester Medical Center, Valhalla, N.Y.
• Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio
• James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute, Columbus, Ohio
• Grant Medical Center, Columbus, Ohio
• Riverside Methodist Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
• OHSU Hospital, Portland, Ore.
• Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Penn.
• Roger Williams Medical Center, Providence, R.I.
• University of Tennessee Medical Center, Knoxville, Tenn.
• Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.
• University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas
• University of Virginia Medical Center, Charlottesville, Va.
• VCU Health System, Richmond, Va.
• Carilion Medical Center, Roanoke, Va.

John Santa M.D.

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