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HealthGrades Study Evaluated 5,000 Hospitals Across the Country

SEATTLE - (March 31, 2010) - A respected annual study of patient safety at American hospitals found Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Wash., to be in the top 5 percent in the nation. The study, conducted by HealthGrades, the leading independent health care ratings organization, named VM as one of 238 hospitals nationwide to receive the 2010 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence AwardTM.

"Virginia Mason is committed to providing the highest quality, safest, most appropriate care at the lowest cost possible," says Gary S. Kaplan, MD, Virginia Mason chairman and CEO. "The award is another validation that our efforts are paying off. Every one of our team members is intently focused on patient safety."

In the study, 40 million hospitalization records from nearly 5,000 hospitals were analyzed to understand the incidence rates of 15 different patient safety events, from postoperative sepsis to complications from anesthesia, over the years 2006, 2007 and 2008. 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 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 43 percent less likely to experience a patient safety event over the years 2006 to 2008.

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 200,000 patient safety events and nearly 23,000 Medicare deaths could have been avoided over the three years studied.

"Virginia Mason is among the hospitals setting the benchmark for excellence in patient safety, something that the people of Seattle should take great pride and comfort in," said Rick May, MD, a vice president at HealthGrades and co-author of the study. "To achieve this level of patient safety, hospitals like Virginia Mason tend to have a culture of quality that drives vigilance and continuous improvement, and they should be congratulated."

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

  • Complications of anesthesia
  • Death in low mortality Diagnostic Related Groupings (DRGs)
  • Decubitus ulcer (bed sores)
  • Death among surgical inpatients with serious treatable complications
  • Iatrogenic pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
  • Selected infections due to medical care
  • Postoperative hip fracture
  • Postoperative hemorrhage or hematoma
  • Postoperative physiologic and metabolic derangements
  • Postoperative respiratory failure
  • Postoperative pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis
  • Postoperative sepsis
  • Postoperative abdominal wound dehiscence
  • Accidental puncture or laceration
  • Transfusion reaction

The full study can be found on HealthGrades' Web site.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center
Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit comprehensive regional health-care system in Seattle that combines a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 480 physicians with a 336-bed acute-care hospital. Celebrating its 90th Anniversary, Virginia Mason operates a network of clinics throughout the Puget Sound area; manages Bailey-Boushay House, a nursing residence and chronic care management program for people living with HIV and AIDS; and operates 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 Media Inquiries, Contact:
For media inquiries, contact:
(206) 341-1509

Scott Shapiro, HealthGrades
(720) 963-6584;

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