Category Archives: Hospital News

VM begins posting online ratings, patient comments about clinic providers


Virginia Mason VM ThumbSeattle’s Virginia Mason Medical Center has begun posting online star ratings for, and patients’ comments about, its clinic physicians and providers.

The ratings (up to five stars) and comments are based on patient satisfaction surveys and appear with providers’ biographies on the Virginia Mason website,

Screen Shot 2015-10-05 at 2.38.22 PM

Click on image to see the ratings and comments

To find a specific provider, type his or her name in the “Search” field at the top of the homepage. Click here to see an example.

In satisfaction surveys, patients rate physicians and other providers (i.e., physician assistants, advanced registered nurse practitioners) as Very Poor, Poor, Fair, Good or Very Good on these topics:

  • Friendliness/courtesy of the provider
  • Explanations the care provider gave you about your problem/condition
  • Concern the care provider showed for your questions or worries
  • Care provider’s efforts to include you in decisions about your treatment
  • Degree to which the provider talked with you, using words you could understand
  • Amount of time the care provider spent with you
  • Your confidence in the provider
  • Likelihood of your recommending this care provider to others

Ratings and patients’ comments are verified by Press Ganey Associates, an independent company that conducts ongoing satisfaction surveys.

The Virginia Mason Patient Relations and Service Department also uses information from the satisfaction surveys to identify and address issues of importance to patients and their families.

Virginia Mason is among a few health systems across the U.S. that post ratings for, and patient comments about, its providers on the Internet. Others include Cleveland Clinic, University of Utah Healthcare, Stanford Healthcare and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Virginia Mason has launched several other similar initiatives include: implementing the Patient Cost Estimator, which offers comprehensive estimates of out-of-pocket costs for numerous medical exams and procedures; posting online the estimated prices of the 100 most common outpatient surgical procedures; and enabling Virginia Mason patients to see clinical notes about their care on the secure, online patient portal, called


Teamwork key to reducing diagnostic errors, report


By Julie Appleby

Almost every American will experience a medical diagnostic error, but the problem has taken a back seat to other patient safety concerns, an influential panel said in a report out today calling for widespread changes.

Diagnostic errors — defined as inaccurate or delayed diagnoses — account for an estimated 10 percent of patient deaths, hundreds of thousands of adverse events in hospitals each year and are a leading cause of paid medical malpractice claims, a blue ribbon panel of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) said in its report.

Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero
Continue reading


Simple care can help keep your skin healthy for years to come


Pham_Catherine_2014Guest Column by Dermatologist Catherine Pham, MD
Virginia Mason University Village Medical Center

As a dermatologist, I often hear from patients that they don’t have time for intensive skin care.

However, people should still take care of their skin by doing the basics over their lifetimes.

Good skin care and healthy lifestyle choices can help delay the natural aging process and prevent various skin problems.

Protect yourself from the sun

One of the most important ways to care for your skin is to protect it from the damaging effects of overexposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. A lifetime of sun exposure can cause wrinkles, age spots and other problems, like skin cancer.

For the most complete sun protection Continue reading


When the hospital is your doctor’s boss, that’s where you go


Sign for an emergency room.By Jay Hancock

Why did hospitals binge-buy doctor practices in recent years?

To improve care coordination, lower costs and upgrade patient experiences, say hospitals.

To raise costs, gain pricing power and steer patient referrals, say skeptics.

Ownership by a hospital “dramatically increases” odds that a doctor will admit patients there instead of another, nearby hospital.

Researchers at Stanford University tested those opposing arguments by comparing referral patterns between independent doctors and those working for hospitals.

Ownership by a hospital “dramatically increases” odds that a doctor will admit patients there instead of another, nearby hospital, they found.

Worse, from the viewpoint of reformers, it boosts chances that patients will go to higher-cost, lower-quality hospitals. Continue reading


Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter


Seattle Children's Whale LogoSeattle Children’s Hospital is working with the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control after it was revealed that the required procedures for cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments at the hospital’s Bellevue Clinic and Surgery Center were not always followed.

“I understand that families will be concerned, and rightly so, but from a scientific perspective, the risk is low, which I hope that families find reassuring,’ Seattle and King County Public Health official Justin Duchin, M.D. said at a press conference on August 26.

As a result of the problems with sterilization, patients who had a surgical procedure at the Bellevue Clinic may need to be tested for hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV, the hospital said in a statement.

Source: Seattle Children’s discovers lapse in sterilization at Bellevue clinic | Patients may need to be tested for Hep. B, C, HIV – Bellevue Reporter


Is a double knee replacement right for you?


Having both knees replaced at the same time has advantages

By Dr. David Kieras
Virginia Mason

samIf someone you know has severe arthritis in both knees that greatly reduces their quality of life, they may be a candidate for bilateral simultaneous knee replacement surgery, where both joints are simultaneously operated on in one surgical procedure.

Although not an option for everyone, this approach is enticing to many people who dread the idea of recovering from two separate surgeries, which delays recovery and a return to normal activities for several months, if not years.

Bilateral ‘staged’ knee replacement – one knee surgery followed by another – is not uncommon.  However, bilateral simultaneous knee replacement is more advanced and uncommon due to the special expertise and team coordination required.

It can be beneficial for people who have limited time off from work for rehabilitation and need to return to a more normal lifestyle as quickly as possible. Continue reading


To survive, rural hospitals join forces


By Michael Ollove

WILLCOX, Arizona—Ask Sam Lindsey about the importance of Northern Cochise Community Hospital and he’ll give you a wry grin. You might as well be asking the 77-year-old city councilman to choose between playing pickup basketball—as he still does most Fridays—and being planted six feet under the Arizona dust.

Many of the country’s rural hospitals are struggling. Can “alliances” with other hospitals help them survive?

Lindsey believes he’s above ground, and still playing point guard down at the Mormon church, because of Northern Cochise. Last Christmas, he suffered a severe stroke in his home. He survived, he said, because his wife, Zenita, got him to the hospital within minutes. If it hadn’t been there, she would have had to drive him 85 miles to Tucson Medical Center. FOR RURAL HOSPITAL STORY

There are approximately 2,300 rural hospitals in the U.S., most of them concentrated in the Midwest and the South.

For a variety of reasons, many of them are struggling to survive. In the last five years, Congress has sharply reduced spending on Medicare, the federal health insurance program for the elderly, and the patients at rural hospitals tend to be older than those at urban or suburban ones.

Rural hospitals in sparsely populated areas see fewer patients but still have to maintain emergency rooms and beds for acute care. They serve many people who are uninsured and can’t afford to pay for the services they receive.  Continue reading


For hospitals, sleep and patient satisfaction go hand in hand


Insomnia Sleep Tacuinum SanitatisBy Shefali Luthra

It’s a common complaint — if you spend a night in the hospital, you probably won’t get much sleep.

There’s the noise. There’s the bright fluorescent hallway light. And there’s the unending barrage of nighttime interruptions: vitals checks, medication administration, blood draws and the rest.

As hospitals chase better patient ratings and health outcomes, an increasing number are rethinking how they function at night — so that more patients can sleep relatively uninterrupted.

Peter Ubel, a physician and a professor at Duke University’s business school, has studied the rational and irrational forces that affect health. But he was surprised when hospitalized at Duke in 2013 to get a small tumor removed at how difficult it was to sleep.

“There was no coordination,” he said. “One person would be in charge of measuring my blood pressure. Another would come in when the alarm went off, and they never thought, ‘Gee if the alarm goes off, I should also do blood pressure.’”

“From a patient perspective,” he added, “you’re sitting there going, ‘What the heck?’” Continue reading


NYC hospitals to end filming patients without consent


Photo by Brainloc

By Annie Waldman

Bruised by criticism after a reality TV show surreptitiously recorded and aired a man’s death, New York City hospitals will no longer allow patients to be filmed without getting prior consent.

The Greater New York Hospital Association, an umbrella organization that represents all of New York City’s hospitals, has asked its member institutions to put an end to filming patients for entertainment purposes without getting their permission.

The move came in response to an issue raised by a ProPublica story published with The New York Times earlier this year.

“Our member hospitals strongly agree that patients deserve privacy in the course of receiving care and that their medical information should be kept confidential in accordance with the law,” said Kenneth E. Raske, the president of Greater New York Hospital Association, in a letter to City Council members last month. The letter was released this week.

ProPublica’s report, published in January, revealed how ABC’s reality show “NY Med” filmed the death of Mark Chanko, a patient at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, without getting permission from him or his family. In July, New York City Council members demanded that city hospitals prohibit the filming of patients.

“Not everything is made for TV,” said New York councilmember Dan Garodnick in an interview. “When you go into a hospital, you deserve to know that your sensitive moments are not going to end up on primetime.”

Chanko’s family only found out about the filming after the episode featuring his death aired. The family was not even aware that camera crews had been in the emergency room during Chanko’s final moments.

[Photo by Brainloc]

Continue reading


Half of US hospitals hit with a total of $420m in Medicare’s readmission penalties


Sign for an emergency room.By Jordan Rau

Once again, the majority of the nation’s hospitals are being penalized by Medicare for having patients frequently return within a month of discharge — this time losing a combined $420 million, government records show.

In the fourth year of federal readmission penalties, 2,592 hospitals will receive lower payments for every Medicare patient that stays in the hospital — readmitted or not — starting in October.

Overall, Medicare’s punishments are slightly less severe than they were last year, both in the amount of the average fine and the number of hospitals penalized.

The Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created by the Affordable Care Act, was designed to make hospitals pay closer attention to what happens to their patients after they get discharged.

Since the fines began, national readmission rates have dropped, but roughly one of every five Medicare patients sent to the hospital ends up returning within a month.

Some hospitals view the punishments as unfair because they can lose money even if they had fewer readmissions than they did in previous years. All but 209 of the hospitals penalized in this round were also punished last year, a Kaiser Health News analysis of the records found. Continue reading


Yelp! adds medical quality data to its ratings


yelp-logoStay far, far away’ and other things gleaned from Yelp health reviews

By Charles Ornstein ProPublica, Aug. 6, 2015, 5 a.m.
This story was co-published with NPR’s Shots blog.

Dental patients really don’t like Western Dental. Not its Anaheim, California clinic: “I hate this place!!!” one reviewer wrote on the rating site Yelp. Or one of its locations in Phoenix: “Learn from my terrible experience and stay far, far away.”

In fact, the chain of low-cost dental clinics, which has more Yelp reviews than any other health provider, has been repeatedly, often brutally, panned in some 3,000 online critiques 2014379 include the word “horrible.” Its average rating: 1.8 out of five stars.

Screen Shot 2015-08-06 at 9.47.38 AMPatients on Yelp aren’t fans of the ubiquitous lab testing company Quest Diagnostics either. The word “rude” appeared in 13 percent of its 2,500 reviews (average 2.7 stars). “It’s like the seventh level of hell,” one reviewer wrote of a Quest lab in Greenbrae, California.

Indeed, doctors and health professionals everywhere could learn a valuable lesson from the archives of Yelp: Your officious personality or brusque office staff can sink your reputation even if your professional skills are just fine.

“Rudest office staff ever. Also incompetent. I will settle for rude & competent or polite & incompetent. But both rude & incompetent is unacceptable,” wrote one Yelp reviewer of a New York internist.

ProPublica and Yelp recently agreed to a partnership, which will allow information from ProPublica’s interactive health databases to begin appearing on Yelp’s health provider pages.

In addition to reading about consumers’ experiences with hospitals, nursing homes and doctors, Yelp users will see objective data about how the providers’ practice patterns compare to their peers. Continue reading


How much does it cost to have a baby? Hospital study finds huge price range


pregnant-money-570By Michelle Andrews

Which hospital parents pick to deliver their baby can have serious cost consequences, according to a new study.

Hospital costs for women who had no maternal or obstetric risk factors to complicate childbirth ranged from less than $2,000 to nearly $12,000, the analysis of discharge data found. The wide variation in cost means that for expectant parents, it can pay to shop around. Continue reading


Online scorecard helps you pick a surgeon


surgeons performing surgery in operating roomThe independent investigative journalism website ProPublica has created online “Surgeon Scorecard” that you can use to find out a surgeon’s complication rate for eight commonly performed operations.

To learn about the complication rates of surgeons working at hospitals in Washington state go here.


Many hospitals fail to follow guidelines for child abuse patients, study finds


Rib fractures in an infant secondary to child abuse – NIH photo

By Alana Pockros

About half of young children brought to hospitals with injuries indicating that they have been abused were not thoroughly evaluated for other injuries, and the use of proper care is less likely to happen in general hospitals than in those that specialize in pediatrics, a study released Monday found.

The researchers examined whether hospitals are adhering to guidelines from The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that all children younger than 2 years old suspected of being victims of child abuse undergo skeletal surveys, a series of X-rays used to identify broken bones that are not readily apparent, called occult fractures.

The results, published in the journal Pediatrics, reveal a significant variation in hospitals’ evaluation of occult injuries, despite the AAP’s recommendations.

“In the young population, medical providers can miss important injuries. … Skeletal surveys can help identify them,” said Dr. Joanne Wood, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and senior author of the study. Continue reading