By TERRENCE DWYER
The May issue of Consumer Reports has a pleasant surprise for residents of Fort Dodge and north central Iowa. Analysts at the magazine concluded that Fort Dodge-based UnityPoint Health - Trinity Regional Medical Center is one of the safest hospitals in the nation.
Making use of data from the federal government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the Consumers Report team combined five categories of information relevant to the safety of hospitalized Medicare patients and calculated a safety score for each of the nation's hospitals for which data were available.
TRMC ranked in the top 15.
While delighted with the recognition, leaders at Trinity said they have known for some time that aggressive efforts to ensure patient safety are producing excellent results at the local medical center.
The numbers support Trinity's success
National all-cause 30-day readmission rate in 2012: 18.4 percent
2012 TRMC readmission rate: 9.4 percent
2013 TRMC readmission rate: 8.6 percent
National fall rate: 1.3-8.9 falls per 1,000 patient days
2012 TRMC fall rate: 0.96 per 1,000 patient days
2013 TRMC fall rate: 0.65 per 1,000 patient days
3North: 500 days without a fall (during those 500 days, there were 5,817 patient days with zero falls on that unit)
Source: Data provided by Trinity Regional Medical Center
"Over the last few years, the (Quality) Committee has been focused on ways to enhance communication with patients and the health care team, improve patient safety and increase patient satisfaction," said Dr. James Meyer, who chairs the committee. "We believe in our vision - best outcome for every patient every time - and by always keeping it in mind, we are creating a culture of safety. It is this culture that has made us a leader within UnityPoint Health and the nation in patient safety and quality care."
Sue Thompson, president and chief executive officer of UnityPoint Health - Fort Dodge, strongly echoed that sentiment and elaborated on what the medical center is achieving.
"Our physicians, staff and all members of the health care team are personally invested in the safety of our patients," she said. "We have been blessed with strong physician leadership and engagement that has been an important contributing factor to our success."
Thompson provided statistical evidence that the safety initiative is working.
"With the direction of our Board Quality Committee, we have put a strong focus on reducing/eliminating falls and reducing readmissions with outstanding results," she said. "(Recently) Trinity's Medical/Surgical Inpatient Unit, 3North, celebrated 500 days without a patient fall, which is a tremendous accomplishment. Additionally, we finished 2013 with a readmission rate of 8.6 percent. Both of these statistics are examples of the great work our physicians and staff are doing around patient safety."
Two other Iowa hospitals also made Consumer Reports Top 15 list: UnityPoint Health - Finley Hospital in Dubuque and Marshalltown's Medical & Surgical Center.