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Archive for Wednesday, January 4, 2006

Hospital heart program honored

New rankings reflect improved procedures for heart-attack patients

January 4, 2006

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Just two years after scoring near the bottom of all area hospitals for heart attack care, Lawrence Memorial Hospital is now among the best in the country, according to a report released Tuesday.

LMH was one of only 11 hospitals in the nation to receive a perfect score for its procedures related to heart attack care, according to an analysis of federal data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"It's an incredible ranking," Gene Meyer, LMH president and chief executive, said. "We're very proud of it."

The new report also ranks LMH sixth - out of 2,053 hospitals that submitted data to the federal center - for its overall procedures in treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia.

The rankings continue a steady climb for the hospital's treatment of heart attack patients. In 2003, a group of 25 Kansas City-area hospitals conducted a similar study and LMH ranked last with a score of 66 percent.

Both reports measure how often the hospital follows established best practices in treating heart-attack patients. For example, national guidelines call for giving the patient an aspirin and beta-blocker within 24 hours of arriving at the hospital, and that smokers are given smoking-cessation advice or counseling.

Meyer said the 2003 report wasn't a sign that the hospital was providing poor care, but hospital leaders have worked hard to improve the scores.

"We have really tried to work together as a team," Meyer said. "While the physicians deserve a great deal of credit, if they didn't have confidence in the other caregivers we have, they either wouldn't practice here or wouldn't send their patients here."

The national study was conducted by Total Benchmark Solution, a private Colorado-based company that provides rankings for a variety of industries.

Janice Early-Weas, director of community relations for LMH, said the hospital didn't contract with the company for the rankings, but rather was notified by the company that it had made its annual top 100 list.

The company found that in 2004 - the most recent data available - that LMH ranked 45th in heart-failure care with a score of 98.5 percent. It ranked 123rd in pneumonia care with a score of 95.8 percent.

Hospitals are measured on how often they follow all of the recommended guidelines. Points are deducted every time a guideline isn't followed.

"There is a lot of evidence that if you follow these guidelines you will have better outcomes for your patients and that is what is really important," Early-Weas said.

LMH was the only hospital in Kansas or Missouri to be included in the top 100 list.

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