Barton gets respectable score for patient care | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Barton gets respectable score for patient care

Cory Fisher

Barton Memorial Hospital officials say they are pleased with the recent outcome of a rigorous, three-day evaluation performed by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations in September.

The Commission evaluates and accredits more than 11,000 hospitals and home health agencies nationwide and is designed to assess hospital performance and compliance with national standards as they relate to patient care.

“We got a score of 94 out of 100,” said Barton’s Director of Risk Management Katheryn Biasotti. “That’s like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for hospitals.”

Roughly 40 percent of all hospitals evaluated received a 94 or better, Biasotti said.

In addition, Barton’s Home Health and Hospice Agency underwent a similar, four-day inspection and received a score of 93.

Joint Commission board members are appointed by the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the American Dental Association, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association.

Independent survey teams comprised of a variety of independent health care professionals spent three days reviewing files and procedures, interviewing physicians, nurses and other staff and observing day-to-day routines.

“This score should give us some bragging rights – we feel pretty good,” said Barton’s Chief Executive Officer Bill Gordon. “We’re not perfect – everyone who walks in doesn’t walk out 100 percent satisfied. But the majority are overwhelmingly happy we’re here – this just reinforces that.”

The Joint Commission did, however, give the hospital three formal recommendations:

— Restraint documentation- Under a new law, should a patient require restraints, doctors are now required to document the exact amount of time a patient is restrained. Instead, on two separate occasions, one Barton doctor wrote “as required” – a common practice prior to the new legislation.

“(The patients) were restrained according to regulations,” Biasotti said. “The physician just wrote the wrong order – this was common in many hospitals this year.”

— Paper flow- According to regulations, on six occasions, medical histories and physical exams for dental surgery patients should have been sent over from dentists’ offices, even though that information was already available on site from family practitioners.

— Biohazard labeling- Stickers were found on only one side of containers. Regulations require stickers on all four sides.

“These are relatively minor details that we got dinged on,” Biasotti said. “In addition, the surveyors who visited Barton were randomly chosen to be evaluated by inspectors from the federal government – with people surveying the surveyors, you know they were thorough.”

The mission of the independent survey is to help health care organizations “reduce patient risk for undesirable outcomes” and “create an environment for continuous improvement.”

The accreditation process is increasingly used as a requirement for participation in managed care programs, Medicare, MediCal and health care benefit plans. In addition, lenders and bond underwriters often require accreditation as a condition of financing.

Barton was again granted the maximum accreditation of three years. Barton scored an 89 in 1994.

“This is a good way to evaluate physician practices – Barton has more than 80 physicians on medical staff,” Gordon said. “I see it as a real score for health care in the community – if it’s good at the hospital, that same quality will be carried over into doctors’ offices.”

However, the ongoing changes in laws and regulations require constant vigilance for hospitals, Biasotti said, which often include retraining of staff. “You always have to be ready for them to walk in the door,” she said. “It could happen on any day.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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