Consumer Reports: ETX home to best surgery hospitals in TX

Consumer Reports: ETX home to best surgery hospitals in TX

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Update: An earlier version of this story did not include Longview Regional Medical Center. According to Consumer Reports, Longview Regional Medical Center also received the highest surgery rating. An updated version of this story has been released.

Some of the best Texas hospitals for surgery are right here in East Texas, according to a study released Wednesday by Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports is the leading independent evaluator of products and services in the world. They're known for not being influenced by advertising or allegiances of any kind. For the first time, Consumer Reports is rating hospitals on how well patients fare during and after surgery.

More than 2,400 U.S. hospitals were rated, and the results show that surgery in East Texas isn't something to be afraid of. Mother Frances Hospital is in the top five, nationally, when it comes to carotid artery surgery.

"The surgeons here enjoy what we do. We want to take care of patients and we want those patients to have the very best outcome," says Todd Bengtson, a peripheral vascular surgeon at Mother Frances Hospital.

Bengtson, has been practicing at Mother Frances for 15 years.

"They have invested heavily in the newest technology for us and have invested in the best personnel for us to work with," he says.

The surgery ratings are just one indication of a hospital's performance. When evaluating hospital quality, many different things must be taken into account and no one single measure captures it all, but here is how the hospitals stacked up when it came to surgery in East Texas, according to Consumer Reports:Mother Frances, Longview Regional Medical Center and Texas Spine and Joint Hospitals got the highest ratings.

Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview received the second highest ratings.

East Texas Medical Center in Tyler was rated lowest of the East Texas hospitals.

"Everything is built around quality," says Texas Spine & Joint Hospital CEO Tony Wahl.

Texas Spine & Joint Hospital is small, but Wahl credits safety, a hand-picked staff and quality surgeons for their superior ratings.

"We do the same things over and over... the same types of surgery. We have it down," he says.

"It's always very rewarding to be recognized for the work that you do," says Good Shepherd Medical Center Vice President Ron Short.

Short says East Texans are fortunate to have multiple hospitals rated high on the list.

"I honestly do believe working with administrators in different capacities from Longview Regional, Mother Frances and others, that there are some really great hospitals in this area. Some of the best in the state. The best in the nation, but that doesn't mean we rest on our laurels and don't continue to try to improve to make it better," Short says.

In a statement regarding their rating, quality officer Ralph Carroll, with East Texas Medical Center in Tyler said:

"ETMC Tyler is unique in that we are at the center of a large, 15-hospital regional healthcare system. Because of that we draw patients from a 27-county area; we are truly the hospital of East Texas. This distinction results in our having a higher share of acutely ill patients, many of whom live in rural areas where access to healthcare is a challenge. Finding a suitable facility for transfer of these patients once the hospital stay is complete often results in longer lengths of stay – one of the two factors in the Consumer Reports ranking. We are also the only Level I trauma facility in East Texas; it is interesting to note that very few hospitals with Level I trauma centers in the state scored high in the rankings. For example, Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas and Memorial Hermann in Houston received the same ranking as ETMC Tyler.

In general, healthcare scoring systems are helpful as a general guide, but it's important for consumers to recognize that healthcare is an incredibly complex process. Trying to capture the "safety" of healthcare in a series of numbers is difficult and can result in oversimplification. The Consumer Reports surgery safety methodology looks at only two factors, using Medicare data that is several years old. These systems also struggle with accurately depicting the variations in patient acuity at each facility.

In some scoring systems, ETMC does significantly better than other hospitals in the area. This is not the case in the Consumer Reports ranking, which we feel is overly simplistic. While imperfect in terms of identifying true quality, scoring systems such as this one encourage transparency and discussion, which has the potential to improve healthcare. We appreciate the effort of outside agencies to assist consumers, and we review the data as part of our quality improvement efforts."

In the study, Consumer Reports analyzed the billing claims and records of 27 categories of commonly scheduled surgeries. The surgery ratings are based on the percentage of the hospitals' Medicare patients who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for their procedures.

Other Consumer Reports findings show that:

Specialty hospitals tended to rank higher Name recognition isn't everything--- big names like the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins didn't get thhigher ratingsgsRuralal hospitals, on average, did better than urban hospitals. Some hospitals nationwide say the Consumer Reports data was not consistent with the data from their own research. UT Health Northeast was not included in the Consumer Reports study.

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