published Friday, July 20th, 2012

Erlanger ranks high in U.S. News evaluation

 Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Chattanooga's Erlanger Hospital is seen in this aerial file photo.
Photo by Doug Strickland /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
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The latest U.S. News and World Report hospitals ranking released this week names Erlanger Health System as sixth in the state in their "Best Regional Hospital" rankings, which looks at a wide number of factors including patient survival rates, safety rates, nurse-to-patient ratios and a hospital's reputation.

Ten other hospitals in Tennessee made the "best regional" list out of more than 150 hospitals in the state.

Erlanger was also recognized for seven high-performing specialties -- neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, urology, diabetes and endocrinology, pulmonology, gastroenterology and nephrology.

"As the region's only academic teaching hospital and Level One Trauma Center, we are extremely pleased to have earned this national recognition from U.S. News and World Report once again," Erlanger interim CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson said in a news release.

Memorial Health Care System and Parkridge Health System were not ranked. The U.S. News' ranking includes points for having services such as a trauma center, NICU, doing specialty surgeries and being a teaching center which is why they do not rank, Memorial and Parkridge officials said.

This was the first year U.S. News and World Report compiled state rankings. It also changed some of criteria for compiling the rankings, relying more on publicly available data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to U.S. News' methodology report.

In the ranking, a hospital's survival rate comprised 32.5 percent; its reputation based on national physician surveys comprised 32.5 percent; staffing, technology and other factors made up 30 percent; and patient safety weighed in at 5 percent.

For the state-level ranking, a hospital has to perform at "nearly the level of the nationally ranked institutions," said U.S. News and World Report rankings editor Avery Comarow in a news release.

"These high-performing hospitals are fully capable of giving most patients first-rate care even if they have serious conditions or need demanding procedures," Comarow said.

Recent rankings from Consumer Reports and Leapfrog -- an independent national nonprofit run by employers and other large purchasers of health benefits -- focused strictly on a hospital's safety.

All three rankings used data from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. On Thursday, CMS announced new additions and changes to its two sites that provide publicly available data -- Hospital Compare and Nursing Home Compare.

Each site can be searched for individual health facilities or by ZIP code.

The Hospital Compare site will now include data on the overuse of imaging services. Nursing Home Compare will include information about antipsychotic use at every nursing home in the country.

"Transparency is a very important aspect of any quality improvement," said CMS deputy chief medical officer Shari Ling during a news conference, saying they would continue looking at additional information they can provide to help consumers make decisions about hospitals and nursing homes.

about Mariann Martin...

Mariann Martin covers healthcare in Chattanooga and the surrounding region. She joined the Times Free Press in February 2011, after covering crime and courts for the Jackson (Tenn.) Sun for two years. Mariann was born in Indiana, but grew up in Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Belize. She graduated from Union University in 2005 with degrees in English and history and has master’s degrees in international relations and history from the University of Toronto. While attending Union, ...

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