UMC honored as country’s 5th-best teaching hospital

September 19, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Stephanie Innes, Arizona Daily Star] – For the first time in its history, University Medical Center is being honored as one of the top five teaching hospitals in the nation.

Officials with the local hospital are scheduled to receive an award from the Illinois-based University HealthSystem Consortium at a ceremony in Scottsdale today.

UMC ranked fifth among the 88 teaching hospitals across the country.

The consortium based its rankings on six areas of quality: mortality, effectiveness, safety, equity, “patient-centeredness” and efficiency.

Last year UMC ranked 11th in the same survey. The year before, its rank was 17th.

“We’re proud of it, but I say that with caution because we know we are being re-evaluated and rejudged every minute of every day,” said Dr. Andreas A. Theodorou, co-director of the Center for Quality and Safety at UMC.

“We look at it as a reflection of our dedication throughout the institution. But no more than that – it’s back to business.”

UMC scored particularly well on the mortality portion of the analysis, ranking third for its low mortality rate in a survey that judged the hospital by measuring deaths in 28 areas, including bone marrow transplants, cardiology, neurology, neurosurgery and trauma.

“We are being scored against the top medical centers in the country, so to be third, I’m numbed by that thought,” Theodorou said. “All hospitals are doing better because of sharing of ideas, government and public scrutiny – everybody is doing better, so the fact that we have done this well compared to our peers in this environment means something extra- special to us.”

Theodorou said a 1999 Institute of Medicine report gave the hospital impetus to put more focus on quality and preventing mistakes. The report said medical errors killed at least 44,000 hospitalized Americans each year.

The report did not blame individual health-care workers, but said the problem was with systemic flaws in the way hospitals, clinics and pharmacies operated.

“We started our intense quality program the day the Institute of Medicine’s report came out,” Theodorou said.

Theodorou said UMC fostered a change in hospital culture to ensure safety was always on everyone’s mind.

“We started a pretty aggressive training program not just for the leadership but for the employees at all levels of the institution,” he said. “There are ongoing quality programs that are very intense. We also created the Center for Quality and Safety at UMC, and through that we have numerous initiatives, including looking at research projects, and innovative ideas on how to become better, safer and proactive in reducing errors.”

UMC was among more than half of the teaching hospitals that earned perfect scores for “equity” – treating patients the same regardless of their health-insurance status and ability to pay.
The top-ranking hospital in the survey was Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. But officials with the University HealthSystem Consortium stressed that the top five medical centers were extremely close in scores.

“Once you get toward the top of the scale, it’s pretty tight in terms of what is separating them. It’s like a photo finish in the 100-yard dash,” said Dr. Mark Keroack, vice president and director of the consortium’s clinical practice advancement center.

On Aug. 11 an international health-care consulting firm named UMC one of the top 100 hospitals in the nation. It was the only Arizona hospital to make Thomson Reuters’ top 100 list, which analyzed the performance of more than 2,800 U.S. hospitals on a variety of clinical, financial, operational and patient-safety criteria from 2002 to 2006.