LEWISTON — A just-released Consumer Reports study of death and long-term hospitalization following surgery has given Lewiston's two hospitals its top safety rankings in Maine.
The publication gave St. Mary's Regional Medical Center a score of 67, saying the hospital had a particularly good record of avoiding re-admissions or bloodstream infections. According to its data, the magazine found that St. Mary's had not had a single bloodstream infection in all of 2011.
Central Maine Medical Center came in second with a score of 61. It also scored well in avoiding infections.
Maine Medical Center in Portland scored last among the six ranked hospitals with a rating of 47. The hospital did worse than average at avoiding serious complications to surgery, the magazine said. The other Maine hospitals that were ranked are Eastern Maine Medical Center and St. Joseph's Hospital in Bangor and MaineGeneral Medical Center in Waterville.
The hospitals were ranked on a scale of 1 to 100. Nationally, scores ranged from a high of 74 to a low of 14.
Consumer Reports and a health care consulting firm, MPA, gathered Medicare billing claims for a three-year period, from 2009 to 2011. They looked at 27 kinds of scheduled surgeries and tracked the problems that happened after the surgery, from bad reactions to anesthesia and breathing or heart problems to the worst errors such as instruments left inside patients during surgery.
Data were gathered at 2,463 hospitals.
"Our new surgery ratings are part of an ongoing effort to shed light on hospital quality and to push the health care industry toward more transparency," the magazine said in its just-published edition.
"We are very pleased," said Russ Donahue, spokesman for St. Mary's Regional Medical Center. "We have been working to ensure consistency and excellent outcomes for our patients for a period of time, and it's nice to see those efforts being recognized. What makes this even more valuable to us is it's coming to us from Consumer Reports."
Patty Roy, Central Maine Medical Center's director of quality, said the report was fair.
"It's showing in some of its scores what the doctors and nurses and others are doing here to take care of our patents," she said.
"I would want community members in our surrounding towns to feel very good about having surgery in Lewiston and having care in Lewiston, at CMMC and at St. Mary's," said Roy, who is a registered nurse. "I think we should be proud as a community to have such high rankings."
Of course, there are lots of rankings and analysts giving scores to hospitals.
Maine Med, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, CMMC and St. Mary's were all recently given A's by the Leapfrog Group and its "Hospital Safety Score." Maine Medical Center was recently named Maine's No. 1 hospital by U.S. News and World Report.
"There's been a proliferation of organizations that want to rank hospitals, and frankly, it's extremely confusing for consumers out there right now," said Dr. Doug Salvador, Maine Medical Center's vice president for quality. "The proliferation of measures is such that we wouldn't be able to do a good job if all we did was chase them all down."
Rather, he and hospital staff do their best, given the large quantity of data they already have, Salvador said.
The response at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, which scored a 52 on Consumer Reports' scale, also sounded confident in her hospital's safety record and data gathering.
"There are a lot of these hospital rankings out there, and with limited resources and time, we choose to spend most of attention on the ones that we feel have the most valid data sources and methodologies," spokeswoman Jill McDonald said.