Feb 10, 2015

I always encourage patients to obtain as much information as possible about their course of treatment, including educating themselves about the facilities where they will receive care. Quality and service can vary widely from hospital to hospital, so it makes sense to do your homework before scheduling your procedure.

There are many ways to evaluate a hospital. Several organizations, including U.S. News and World Report and Thomson Reuters, rank hospitals, using a variety of criteria. Insurers also recognize facilities that have distinguished themselves by exceeding certain quality and service levels. Feedback from friends and family about their experiences can also be useful.

When sorting through these various opinions, the key factors to consider are quality and outcomes. Eileen Greffard, Director of the Rose Spine Institute at Denver’s Rose Medical Center (where I also serve as co-medical director), says hospitals provide quality care when they give their patients the care and treatments known to get the best results for their condition. For example, providing an antibiotic within one hour prior to incision has been proven critical in preventing surgical infections. So, you want to make sure the hospital you select is meeting or exceeding national guidelines regarding the administration of such antibiotics.

Greffard also points out that a good spine program will collect and monitor this type of information from patient charts to compare against national standards and to improve the quality of the care they provide. The Rose Spine Institute produces a quality and outcomes report that includes information about the volume of surgeries performed, infection rates and complications. The hospital outperforms average benchmarks in several areas including:

  • Surgical site infection: In 2010 the hospital’s overall infection rate for all spine procedures of .59 percent. In comparison, the national rate reported for primary surgery is 2.0 percent and the rate for revision spine surgery is reported at 3.3 percent.
  • Prophylactic antibiotic administration: Antibiotics are needed to prevent conditions such as Pulmonary Embolism and Deep Vein Thrombosis. At the Rose Spine Institute, antibiotics to protect against these types of blood clots were administered in a timely manner 100 percent of the time. The benchmark is 98.5 percent.

The institute’s quality and outcomes report also includes accolades the hospital has received from insurers and other third party evaluators. This year, for example, Rose Medical Center was named as one of the area’s best hospitals in U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever Best Hospitals rankings. The hospital’s orthopedics department was specifically cited as high performing.

While evaluating data gives some patients peace of mind, others might gain more comfort by paying a visit to the facility before surgery.

As Eileen notes: “Your hospital should always provide a safe, structured, caring environment which is aimed at maximizing your recovery and getting you back to a lifestyle you want.”