Medical sites rate south GA hospitals, some poorly - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Medical sites rate south GA hospitals, some poorly

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Some south Georgia hospitals have poor rankings in online surveys of certain medical procedures.

You can find a lot of information about hospitals online.  That information can help you decide where to go to have surgery.  But should it be the only information you rely on?

There are several different web sites some that report patient information, some reports the hospitals make, or even a patients experiences, but using them alone may not be enough to decide where you should go for treatment.

Oliver Schiess injured his ankle requiring surgery.

"I was doing some training last year and I injured it pretty bad and so they're trying to piece it back together now," said Schiess.

Before this cast went on, being new to south Georgia he did some research on where to have the procedure done.

"My doctor recommended me to the Houston Clinic and then I asked my co-workers if they were any good and they said yes and then after that I went on Google, and saw if I could find any reviews," said Schiess.

But you have to be careful analyzing the information. Take HealthGrades for example...they used coded patient information to create categories like death following a serious complication after surgery. Here's how local hospitals ranked, Phoebe got a worse ratings where Archbold, Phoebe Sumter, Palmyra, and Tift Regional got averages. No one got a better rating. But that's old information.

"Health Grades is two years, they're always two years behind on their data," said Jan Bundies, Palmyra Medical Center Assistant V.P. Quality.

HospitalCompare rates the death rate for heart attack patients from hospital reports, and for Phoebe, Palmyra, and Tift Regional found no different rate than the U.S. National Rate. Hospitals verify this information and say knowing how the data is compared also matters to the public.

"The greater the denominator, the better chance you have of having a better percentage, the higher numbers of volumes than the lower numbers of volume you do," said Bundies.

The Joint Commission compares local hospitals against others nationwide and statewide. While Phoebe was rated below average in some categories, Palmyra was rated better than the state and national average, and it's information even the hospital uses to make improvements.

"We're making daily improvements and changes in the way we provide the care in order to improve it because that's, our goals is to have the best quality care that we can have," said Bundies.

Ultimately hospitals say it's important to do your research so you feel comfortable and get the best quality health care available.

At Palmyra Medical Center, they have a patient satisfaction team and quality care team, that deal with some of these issues and look for ways, if there are any to make improvements.

Hospitals encourage you to discuss what you find online with your doctor and talk to friends who've had a procedure you're about to undergo.

Here are some health information web sites to check:

http://www.qualitycheck.org/consumer/searchQCR.aspx

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http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/

http://www.healthgrades.com/