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HealthGrades Study Evaluated 5,000 Hospitals Across the Country

SEATTLE - (March 9, 2011) — A respected annual study of patient safety at American hospitals found Virginia Mason Medical Center to be in the top 5 percent in the nation for patient safety for the second year in a row. The study, conducted by HealthGrades, the leading independent health care ratings organization, named Virginia Mason as one of only 268 hospitals nationwide to receive the 2011 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence AwardTM.

"Patient safety is the foundation, the bedrock on which quality health care rests," says Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Virginia Mason chairman and CEO. "By focusing on protecting our patients from preventable harm, we are able to provide the highest quality, most appropriate care at the lowest cost possible. For Virginia Mason to win this award two years in a row shows that our patient safety work is succeeding."

In the study, 40 million hospitalization records from nearly 5,000 hospitals were analyzed to understand the incidence rates of 13 different patient safety events, from post-operative infection to death among surgical inpatients with serious but treatable complications. The study was objectively and independently conducted, using a methodology developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal agency, and with data from 2007 to 2009 provided by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For hospitals identified in the top 5 percent in the nation, Medicare patients, on average, were 46 percent less likely to experience a patient safety event.

HealthGrades conducts the largest annual studies of hospital quality in America, in part to identify hospitals that set quality benchmarks to which others can aspire. If all hospitals performed at the level of those receiving the Patient Safety Excellence AwardTM, like Virginia Mason, more than 174,358 patient safety events and nearly 20,688 Medicare deaths could have been avoided over the three years studied.

"We've seen great advances in medical care in the last few decades, but along with these miraculous advances come greater and greater risks. Hospitals like Virginia Mason Medical Center have shown definitively that it is possible to provide the best in medical care while still focusing on the safety of the patient," says Rick May, MD, vice president of Clinical Quality Improvement at HealthGrades and co-author of the study.

In the HealthGrades study, the following patient safety indicators were studied:

  • Death in low mortality Diagnostic Related Groupings (DRGs)
  • Pressure ulcer (decubitus ulcer)
  • Death among surgical inpatients with serious treatable complications
  • Foreign body left in after a procedure
  • Iatrogenic pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Catheter-related bloodstream infections
  • Post-operative hip fracture
  • Post-operative hemorrhage or hematoma
  • Post-operative physiologic and metabolic derangements
  • Post-operative respiratory failure
  • Post-operative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
  • Post-operative sepsis
  • Post-operative abdominal wound dehiscence

The full study can be found on HealthGrades' website at

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a nonprofit comprehensive regional health care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 440 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area, and Bailey-Boushay House, a skilled-nursing facility and chronic care management program for people with HIV/AIDS. The medical center is affiliated with Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason, internationally recognized in autoimmune disease research. Virginia Mason is known for applying manufacturing principles to health care to improve quality and patient safety. For more information, visit Facebook/VMcares or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter.

For Media Inquiries, Contact:
For media inquiries, contact:
(206) 341-1509

Scott Shapiro, HealthGrades
(720) 963-6584;

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