How do you know which hospital to choose for such critical care issues as heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia? An analysis sheds some light nationally, across Florida and within the Tampa Bay area on the good and no-so-good hospitals.
The key, of course, is knowing this information in advance so an emergency does not make the choice of hospital for us.
A recent, detailed Medicare analysis suggests too many people die needlessly at U.S. hospitals. The study shows a wide variation in death rates between the best hospitals and the worst.
One goal of the survey is to empower consumers to pick better-quality care at specific hospitals. That, says Medicare, should fuel hospital competition and raise care standards.
Figures are compiled by the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services and cover a three-year period from mid 2005 to 2008. The agency also supplied the information to the hospitals included and posted them on a Web site, www.HospitalCompare.com.
So which area hospitals are "best" or "worst" based on percentages of patient deaths from three major medical conditions?
Heart attack deaths. Best: Morton Plant Hospital in Clearwater (12.2 percent). Worst: Memorial Hospital of Tampa (20.8 percent) and Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center in Crystal River (20.1 percent).
Heart failure deaths. Best: Brandon Regional Hospital (8.9 percent) and Morton Plant North Bay Hospital in New Port Richey (9 percent). Worst: Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton (15.2 percent).
Pneumonia deaths. Best: Largo Medical Center (8.9 percent). Worst: Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton (14.6 percent).
The analysis also looks at patient readmission rates. If a patient is readmitted to a hospital within 30 days, then that hospital may not have done such a great job of curing an illness in the first place.
Here are the area's best and worst readmission rates.
Heart attack readmissions. Best: Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point in Hudson (17.1 percent). Worst: Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg (23.1 percent) and Tampa General Hospital (22.1 percent).
Heart failure readmissions. Best: Palms of Pasadena in St. Petersburg, Regional Medical Center at Bayonet Point in Hudson, Morton Plant North Bay in New Port Richey and Florida Hospital Zephyrhills (all tied at 21 percent). Worst: Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Bradenton (26.8 percent).
Pneumonia readmissions. Best: Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg (15.7 percent). Worst: University Community Hospital at Carrollwood in Tampa (21.2 percent) and St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa (20 percent).
Some Tampa Bay area hospitals compared favorably with the best 100 of the more than 4,600 hospitals analyzed nationwide. Morton Plant in Clearwater ranked 19th nationally for its low rate of heart attack deaths. Both Memorial Hospital of Tampa and Seven Rivers Regional Medical Center in Crystal River ranked among the nation's 100 worst.
Sarasota Memorial Hospital was No. 2 in the country with the lowest readmission rate for heart attacks (15.4 percent) and in the top 100 in low readmission rates for heart failure and pneumonia.
Robert Trigaux can be reached at email@example.com.