Hospital Mortality Data Released for the First Time

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid released its study on the mortality rate for heart attack and heart failure patients in America's hospitals. Both Lufkin medical centers were comparable to the local, state and national average, but Memorial hospital administrators said it's only one way to measure their quality of care.

C.E.O. Bryant Krenek said, "It's why this has been somewhat controversial from the beginning is because we want the public to understand and have clear information, yet many times when you have statistics and numbers and you analyze them, you may not come up with the right conclusion."

This is the first year mortality data has ever been released. Most East Texas hospitals did well in the study, which takes a close look at how well physicians are documenting the services they've provided.

Lance Jones, Woodland Heights Medical Center C.E.O., said, "How quickly someone received beta blocker medication, how quickly they received aspirin medication, how quickly they were taken to the cath lab for a procedure [and] smoking cessation education are all examples of the information that's out there comparing all hospitals across the country."

The evaluation is a process that began three years ago, which concerns some medical leaders.

Sue Kennedy, Nacogdoches Medical Center's Director of Community Relations, said, "We have very high quality scores now that aren't reflected in that data because that data is so old."

But most medical providers said they will use the information to improve their services.

"No hospital would pretend to be the best hospital," said Tim Hayward, Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital administrator. "I wanna be the best at getting better and if there's areas where I'm below the national average or state average, we'll continue to work on them."

Most of the medical leaders we spoke with said their patients should not let the survey determine where they will seek medical care and emergency treatment. They believe their hospital's overall mortality rate - the number of patients that leave the hospital alive - is the most important indicator of success.

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