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East County News Service

July 19, 2015 (La Mesa)—Hospitals must release their rates of readmission and serioscomplications, due to a new Medicare requirement in the Affordable Care Act—and pay penalties for poor results.  That’s producing positive results, pushing hospitals  to work to improve those numbers and patient wellbeing.

For example, a study by found that from mid-2010 to mid-2013, Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa ranked fourth worst in the nation for readmissions and complications. The good news is that since then, Grossmont's numbers have improved dramatically, according to Better Doctors and Grossmont, and penalty fees have dropped sharply as a result. Th hospital has also won several awards and honors for its patient care.

Andrea D’Eramo, analyst at Better Doctors, says Grossmont scored worse than the national average back in the mid-2010 to mid-2013 timeframe in several categories:

  • Heart Failure 30-Day Mortality Rate
  • Pneumonia 30-Day Mortality Rate
  • Accidental cuts and tears from medical treatment
  • Collapsed lung due to medical treatment
  • Serious complications
  • Rate of readmission after discharge from hospital

As for severe violations, the hospital had one in 2008 and another in 2010, but none since then, D’Eramo told East County Magazine. Those  violations were operating on the wrong side of a 93-year old patient’s brain, and the other for failing to appropriately transition a 45-year old patient from a ventilator to a respiratory therapist and nursing staff.. 

D’Eramo notes that many hospitals have been subject to administrative penalties including other hospitals in San Diego County.  Fortunately, she says, “We see that Grossmont Hospital is moving swiftly in the right direction,” citing fines that have fallen from .36% in fiscal year 2013 to just .04% for 2015—or nearly a 90% drop. 

“This decreasing trend illustrates the hospital is working toward lowering readmissions and is achieving better numbers, even if they are not caught up to national averages yet,” D’Eramo told East County Magazine.

John Cihomsky, vice president of PR and Communications for Sharp HealthCare, which operates Grossmont Hospital advised East County Magazine that he is pleased to learn from Sharp’s Clinical Effectiveness Department that the hospitals care teams have been working hard over the past several years. As a result, he says, Grossmont “will no longer be listed as `worse’ in any of the six categories” that BetterDoctor reported on in its analysis. The new data will cover through June 2014, he added.

Cihomsky also notes that the hospital has attained many positive outcomes not listed in the BetterDoctors report. For instances, he says, “the data excluded any analysis of our Hospital Acquired Infection results. Sharp Grossmont scored better than the national rate in four of six categories.” Those categories included antibiotic resistant Staphylococcus bloodstream infections, intestinal infections, central-line bloodstream infections,  and catheter-associated urinary tract infections.  In the other two categories, surgical site infections from hysterectomies and colon operations, the hospital was on par with the U.S. benchmark. 

He added , “Sharp Grossmont is proud of the efforts being made in quality improvement across the campus.” Those efforts are reflected in the hospital’s David and donna Long Center for Cancer Treatment being honored with the 2015 Women’s Choice Award as one of the nation’s best hospitals for cancer care. The hospital was also recently re-accredited by the commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation FAciliteis and in April, was approved for the Target: Stroke Elite Honor Roll by the American Heart Association and American Stroke  Association.

There can be many reasons for hospitals to have higher than average readmission rates and complications.  Kaiser Family Foundation did a study which found hospitals with relatively higher shares of low-income patients, as well as teaching hospitals, tend to incur penalties, for example. Other potential factors can include a high rate of elderly patients, patients who don’t speak English, undocumented, uninsured or rural patients who may delay seeking emergency treatment.

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