Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

A safe hospital

Salem Hospital has achieved the status as the safest in Oregon as rated by Consumer Reports. That’s quite an achievement considering there are more than 50 hospitals in the state.

The hospital, a division of Salem Health, received a rating of 63 out of a total of 100; the top rating in the country was 72. That’s quite a feather in the cap of hospital CEO Norm Gruber and his entire staff.

The public may well ask “What is the Consumer Reports rating and what does it mean to me?”  According to Consumer Reports, the score is a “summary of six categories that relate to hospital safety” such as avoiding infections, avoiding readmissions, communications about medications and discharge, appropriate use of chest and abdominal scans, avoiding serious complications, and mortality.

Each area, scored against previous ratings, can earn one of five designations, from better to worse.  A hospital would score a perfect 100 if it earned the highest possible score in all areas. The highest score in the current hospital ratings was 72.

For the 2010 calendar year Salem Hospital reported no bloodstream infections out of a total of 5,686 patient days. There were seven surgicalsite infections out of 1,150 surgical procdures. Infections are nothing to fool around with, doctors and nurses jump into action when they detect any infection.

Along with safety scores, the Consumer Reports rating also addresses patient experience, which comes from a survey of patients regarding hospital stays.

In none of the 19 scored areas did Salem Hospital rank at the lowest level, and it received the highest scores for avoiding bloodstream infections, doctor-patient communication, nurse-patient communication, use of electronic health records, and appropriate use of chest scanning.

For the public, the Consumer Reports rating offers confidence in their local hospital. We hear of tragic  cases such as that of Rory Staunton, a 12-year old boy in New York who cut his arm while playing baseball and died three days later from septic shock brought on by sepsis. Indivdual health care emerencies are different, but the care should be as safe as possible.

That’s what Salem Hospital has strived for and that’s what they are accomplishing.