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5:14 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

KRMC makes it on 'worst' list

CMS: Local hospital worse than national average for patient heart-attack mortality

The emergency entrance Tuesday afternoon at Kingman Regional Medical Center, which was one of seven medical centers nationwide rated “Worse than the U.S. National Rate” for patient heart-attack mortality by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. JC AMBERLYN/Miner

The emergency entrance Tuesday afternoon at Kingman Regional Medical Center, which was one of seven medical centers nationwide rated “Worse than the U.S. National Rate” for patient heart-attack mortality by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. JC AMBERLYN/Miner

KINGMAN - Kingman Regional Medical Center is one of seven medical centers of the more than 4,500 hospitals across the country to fall on the "Worse than the U.S. National Rate" list for patient heart-attack mortality.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, released the comparison last week on mortality-outcome measures that reflect care of patients with heart attacks and heart failure.

KRMC Chief Executive Officer Brian Turney said the medical center has seen the data and is supportive of what CMS is trying to do.

"It's clearly their first attempt," Turney said. "There are opportunities to prove the data."

Turney compared the first attempt by CMS to the Wright brothers getting their plane off the ground, not ready for commercial flights.

According to Turney, if there had been one less death, KRMC would have fallen in the norm range for the nation.

He added that during the prototype year for CMS, prior to the time used for the latest data released to the public, KRMC ranked seventh best in Arizona and was above the national average.

"I think right now it's way too early to latch onto conclusions," Turney said.

Turney said the medical center has reviewed the data and didn't see anything they could point to as a problem or reason for the spike.

They've also reviewed numbers so far this year that puts them back into the average range.

"It's a statistical anomaly," Turney said. "Or Medicare test factors need adjusting."

Turney added they are hiring an independent party to review the data.

The two 30-day hospital mortality outcome measures address the care for patients with heart failure and heart attack, or acute myocardial infarction, for hospitals across the nation. To help ensure accuracy in performance reporting, the mortality outcome measures are risk-adjusted and take into account previous health problems to level the playing field among hospitals.

The first reported information on the mortality measures is based on hospital admissions that occurred between July 1 and June 30.

The measures were developed during the past five years using a rigorous methodology developed by a team of experts from Yale and Harvard universities, and are endorsed by the National Quality Forum, a voluntary standard-setting, consensus-building organization representing providers, consumers, purchasers and researchers.

"All hospitals will get detailed reports from CMS for use in quality improvement," CMS Acting Administrator Leslie V. Norwalk said in a news release. "These reports serve as a tool to help hospitals look more broadly at their outcomes and processes of care and identify ways to lower mortality risk for their patients."

KRMC isn't the only medical center in Arizona to fall on the "Worse than the U.S. National Rate" list for heart-attack mortality or heart-failure death rates. Yuma Regional Medical Center and Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale also made the list.

A total of 43 medical centers fell below average. There were 55 medical centers that were above average, none of which were in Arizona.

The Hospital Quality Alliance facilitates communication between the agency and hospitals to help continually analyze and improve the quality of their care.

They work to ensure public reporting efforts for hospitals are supported by a broad cross section of the health-care community.

For more measures of hospitals and medical centers by the CMS, go to their Web site at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov. The mortality numbers will be updated annually.

According to the release, public reporting is intended to empower patients and their families with information with which to engage their local hospitals and physicians in active discussions about quality of care. In an emergency situation, they recommend patients should always go to the nearest, most-easily-accessible facility.