Morris Hospital and Healthcare Centers was rated No. 10 in a Consumer Reports article that included 191 Illinois hospitals in its safety rating.
Morris Hospital received a score of 60 out of 100 for safety in Consumer Reports' "How safe is your hospital?" The highest rating in Illinois went to Alton Memorial Hospital in Alton with a 71. The highest of Consumer Reports' ratings was a 72, which went to Billings Clinic in Billings, Mont.
"I'm pleased for the staff who work very, very hard ... and that the outcomes we work hard to achieve were acknowledged," said Carol Havel, vice president of patient care services.
The hospital was unaware of Consumer Reports' rating article and found out when it received calls from people in the community.
"Everyone is calling us to make sure we're aware. It's fun and creates a lot of excitement," said Janet Long, public relations manager. "We think it is a source of pride for the community. For the community to see Morris Hospital listed toward the top like that makes us all proud."
Consumer Reports gathered the information from governmental and independent resources such as reports to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Hospital Compare and the Illinois Hospital Report Card. The resources included patient surveys, and information that was both mandatory for hospitals to report and information that is voluntarily reported, according to the article.
Morris Hospital's rating beat out neighboring hospitals such as Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet , which received a 44 rating; Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet, with a 53; and Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee with a 57.
Morris Hospital received the strongest ratings in avoiding surgical infection, doctor-patient communication, nurse-patient communication, pain control and appropriate use of chest scanning.
These strengths are attributed to the hospital's focus on committing to "best practice," said Havel. The staff keeps up on the latest research and studies to provide quality and safety in their service.
For example, for surgical cases, it is now considered best practice not to shave a patient prior to the procedure, but to use a special clipper, so that is used 100 percent of the time at Morris Hospital.
Another method of best practice for medication safety is the use of a barcode system, said Havel. Patients have a barcode on their hospital bracelets, as do their medications. Both the wristband and medication are scanned to make sure they match before a medication is given. If not, the nurse receives a red flag notification.
"This ensures we are distributing medication as safely as possible," she said.
As well as doing the best practice, Long said Morris Hospital is advanced in its information and technology. Electronic medical records, the barcode system and having doctor orders and prescriptions put directly into a computer instead of given to a clerk to interpret all help with the quality and safety.
WHERE TO IMPROVE
Morris Hospital's weakest rating was in communication about drug information, the same as many of the other rated hospitals. Hospitals, including Morris, also received lower ratings in avoiding re-admissions.
"I'm not sure people appreciate how complex health care has become," said Havel, as illustrated with the highest score only being 72 out of 100.
"We have variations because we have real people," she said. "Would we like to be 100, certainly. We'd love to be perfect, but there are so many factors that play in. It's difficult, but certainly as we move forward, it gives us an idea of what we can improve on."
It's weakest area according to the rating, communicating drug information, is something the hospital is already working on. Patients are given the information in writing, but Havel said people are not always comfortable with this.
The staff is working on making sure patients understand what is being explained to them. In addition, pharmacists are now available on hospital floors giving patients direct access to the medication experts, said Long.
Morris Hospital is also a part of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Project RED. The Re-Engineered Hospital Discharge (Project RED) re-engineers the workflow process to improve patient safety by using a nurse discharge advocate, according to the agency's website. The nurse "follows specific steps shown to improve the discharge process and decrease hospital re-admissions."
The pilot of this at Morris was for heart patients. The patients are contacted for up to 30 days after being discharged to make sure they are taking their medications correctly and that they attend their follow-up appointments.
This helps with communicating drug information and works on the re-admission rate. The Project RED program is now going to be added to more patients than just heart patients and eventually everyone.
"We're trying to refine it to make it as efficient as possible so we're piloting and expanding it slowly," said Havel.
To read the Consumer Report article and see the ratings visit consumerreports.org.