July 18, 2012

Rabner: “Recent Improvements” Offset Consumer Reports Hospital Ranking

The University Medical Center at Princeton scored 39th among the 62 New Jersey hospitals listed in Consumer Reports’ (CR) recent (August 2012) “Ratings of Hospital Safety” (consumerreports.org).

“Hospitals should be places you go to get better, but too often the opposite happens,” begins the CR report, a sobering fact that appears to have played out in the recent death of 12-year-old Rory Staunton from septic shock in a New York City hospital.

“We believe it is important to give consumers access to information they need to make informed choices about their healthcare, so we support efforts such as the recent Consumer Reports (CR) safety rankings,” said Princeton Healthcare System President and CEO Barry S. Rabner in an email.К“Unfortunately, the rankings relied on some older data and failed to reflect recent improvements.”

Mr. Rabner did not mention the hospital’s move on May 22 to a larger, improved facility, but noted that “our hospital has madeКsignificant improvements over the past few years related to several items factored into the rankings, including infection control, communication with patients regarding their medications, and communication prior to discharge.

“In fact, within the past 10 months, two independent organizations whose purpose is to evaluate the safety and quality of healthcare have given our hospital care their highest marks,” he added.

In a web-based list of “Quick Facts,” the hospital, now known as the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro, notes that the new facility includes “231 single patient rooms with welcoming décor and amenities that reduce stress and anxiety, while minimizing hospital-acquired infections, improving patient safety, enhancing privacy, improving communications and confidentiality, and speeding recovery.”

The hospital safety rating was a first for CR, which reported “using the most current data available to us at the time of our analysis.” This included information from government and independent sources on 1,159 hospitals in 44 states. They also reportedly interviewed patients, physicians, hospital administrators, and safety experts; reviewed medical literature; and looked at hospital inspections and investigations.

A hospital’s “safety score,” according to Consumer Reports, results when six categories of hospital safety are combined into a score between 1 and 100.

Four measures of safety were actually cited in the list, which was arranged by state. Out of five scores, with five being the best and one the worst, Princeton scored two for infections; two for readmissions; one for communication; and four for scanning. The highest-scoring hospital in the state was Deborah Heart and Lung Center in Browns Mills, followed by Newton Medical Center in Newton. The lowest score went to Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, followed by JFK Medical Center in Edison.