UMC's low safety rating not what it appears - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

UMC's low safety rating not what it appears


A new Consumer Report  based on hospital safety ranked Lubbock's University Medical Center with a low score of 30 out of 100. Such a low rating may cause concerns, but UMC officials say there's more to the story.

This Consumer Report gathered information back in 2010 on a handful of safety categories from teaching hospitals across the nation. While UMC doesn't rank in the bottom ten, it does come close with a score of 30. However, the highest ranking hospital only received a score of 72.

UMC Chief Medical Officer Mike Ragain says there are a lot of factors that play into the low score. "One of the problems with this data is it is old data that's about two and half years old going back to 2010," Ragain said. "If you look at our data now, we're better than we were in 2010."

The report focused on the following seven categories and UMC's ratings are included with scores from five to one with five being the best.

  •      Avoiding bloodstream infections –  3
  •      Avoiding readmissions – 2
  •      Avoiding serious complications – similar to average 
  •     Communication about hospital discharge – 2
  •     Communication about drug information – 2
  •     Appropriate use of abdominal scanning – 1
  •     Appropriate use of chest scanning – 1

Ragain says the reason UMC scored so low is because of the high use of double CT scans. Doctors can chose to do scans without contrast, with contrast or do both which is considered a double CT scan. Certain cancers would require doctors to perform a double scan in order to make the best diagnosis, while others may only need one.

The reason the scans were included in this report is because of a nationwide trend of hospitals reducing the amount of scans they use because of concerns with long-term radiation exposure for patients.

Ragain says shortly after the data was collected in 2010, UMC started cutting back on the amount of scans physicians use. "Our chief radiologist put together a plan to educate physicians that we don't have to do both in some cases, but some you do," Ragain said. "It's always up to the physician what exam we do, but we're trying to help our medical staff understand the new thinking to cat scans."

Since the information was gathered, UMC has seen a 25% decrease in abdominal scans and a 35% decrease in chest scans, although those numbers still considered too high by the Consumer Report.

"We don't want to expose anyone unnecessarily. One of the main things for a physician is to do no harm, so we try to be careful with that," he said.

Although they may have scored low on this report, Ragain pointed out that UMC has won awards in excellence, ranked among the top 10% in the nation for outstanding patient experience by HealthGrades and named one of the best companies to work for in Texas for 2013.

"It's a little frustrating that there are only a few measures they picked. If you look at it from a broad viewpoint on a balanced scorecard that includes all different areas, we are doing very well," Ragain said.

Ragain says they will continue to educate and work toward lowering the number of scans ordered by physicians, but he says when it comes down to the amount of scans, their priority is the patient's health and not a magazine's rating.

"I always tell our medical staff to do what is right for the patient and you can't go wrong. If ratings fall where they do... then they fall where they do," Ragain said. "I think we're very comfortable where we are as a hospital, but I think we're always going to try to do better."

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