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Council Reports PMMC Mortality Rates

Pottstown Memorial Medical Center (PMMC), the hospital whose primary service area includes Lower Pottsgrove (PA) Township and Sanatoga, had higher-than-expected death rates last year for patients who experienced four separate types of medical conditions, according to a statewide report issued Thursday (Sept. 25, 2008). Overall, however, the hospital’s mortality rates were “not significantly different” than expected, the report indicated.

Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.

Pottstown Memorial Medical Center.

The medical center, at 1600 E. High St., Pottstown, during 2007 experienced death rates “significantly higher” than expected among patients who had a blood clot in a lung, a complicated miscellaneous lung procedure, stomach and intestinal bleeding, or those with a major cardiovascular condition who underwent complicated vascular procedures excluding the heart, Pennsylvania’s annual Hospital Performance Report said.

The report was released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, a Harrisburg-based independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information used to measure hospital quality and costs. It examined risk-adjusted mortality, readmissions, lengths of hospital stays, and fees and charges in the state’s 162 hospitals for what it said was “31 common medical procedures and treatments” conducted between Oct. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2007.

For 22 of those listed procedures (70.9 percent), the report shows, PMMC’s mortality rate was within an expected range. For another five procedures (16.1 percent), the report did not provide a mortality rating. In the bigger picture, according to report authors, PMMC joined hospitals statewide in reducing patient deaths over the last four years.

For the four procedures (12.9 percent) in which PMMC had higher-than-expected deaths, the study based its findings for the period on the hospital’s 88 cases of stomach and intestinal bleeding, 22 cases of miscellaneous lung procedures, 20 cases of lung blood clots, and 14 cases of complicated vascular procedures excluding the heart.

Of those who died during or following a listed procedure, the study reportedly does not take into consideration patient do-not-resuscitate orders or if patients were terminally ill and in palliative care. It could not be immediately determined whether either or both factors would affect an interpretation of results reported for PMMC.

Of the 31 procedures on which hospitals were measured, PMMC’s average charges during the period ranged from $10,704 for treatment of a hemorrhagic stroke (five cases) to $111,255 for major lung operations (15 cases).

Among all hospitals, the council said, “mortality decreased significantly in 17 of the 25 treatment categories” over four years. The procedure with the greatest improvement was respiratory failure without mechanical ventilation, where the mortality rate statewide decreased from 17.0 percent in 2004 to 11.7 percent in 2007.

The council’s interactive report of PMMC’s statistics is online. It allows visitors, by clicking on the measurement column of their choice, to adjust their view of PMMC statistics on the procedures, the number of cases, the mortality rating, the overall length of stay and its separated components of short and long stays, the percentage of cases re-admitted for any reason or for complications or infection, and the average cost per procedure per case.

The council currently is being funded under an executive order issued last July by Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell. The state Legislature did not re-authorize its budget as a result of what council Chairman David R. Kreider called “an unrelated political disagreement.” Rendell’s emergency measure allows the council to operate only until Nov. 30.

In its reporting last week on the council study, a Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer newspaper article discussed its findings as it related to higher-than-exepected death rates for patients with bloodstream infections. The Inquirer article did not mention PMMC. Instead it focused on eight other Philadelphia area hospitals, of which the closest to Sanatoga was Grand View Hospital in Sellersville PA.

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