Traverse City Record-Eagle

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August 8, 2013

Mixed diagnosis for Munson

TRAVERSE CITY — The most recent issue of Consumer Reports gave Munson Medical Center its lowest rating for surgery, based on the percentage of people who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for a given procedure.

Only four hospitals of 29 in Michigan earned the magazine’s “worst” rating.

Yet Consumer Reports also gave Munson Medical Center a first place ranking in the state for patient safety in its May issue. Its ranking was based on infection, re-admission, complication and adverse effects data.

Consumer Reports used length of hospital stay in its ranking because research shows a correlation with complications. But there are two sides to the coin, said David McGreaham, a physician and Munson’s vice president of medical affairs.

“You don’t want to get people out of the hospital before they are ready,” McGreaham said. “But you don’t want to stay in the hospital because it’s a very dangerous place to be with the potential for infections, and it’s very expensive. We’re trying to walk that line and get people out at an appropriate time. We looked at benchmark data, and we do have opportunities in certain areas.”

Munson has “challenges” with longer patient stays because it serves a large rural area and deals with transportation and follow-up issues, he said.

Consumers Report also used patient mortality as a measure. Munson looked at its benchmarks and is at or below expected number of deaths, McGreaham said.

“It’s very confusing. If we look at surgical complications, we’re better than expected in the Medicare database,” he said.

Consumers Report based its ranking on billing claims submitted to Medicare from 2009 to 2011 for patients 65 and older for 27 types of surgeries.

In a supplementary report, Munson received the “worst” rating for knee and hip replacements. It received top scores for pain control and patient communication with nurses and doctors.

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