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BJC, SSM don't bother to submit data for hospital safety ratings

BJC, SSM don't bother to submit data for hospital safety ratings

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Thank you for your article on Regina Turner's mistaken operation ("Mistake in surgery brings suit," April 30). Leapfrog Group at leapfroggroup.org/cp publishes hospital safety ratings. The hospitals themselves submit the information, so the data could be false. Still, it's a good way to rate hospitals.

The April/May AARP magazine shows that the nearest hospital to St. Louis that meets the voluntary Leapfrog standards is St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, four hours and 246 miles away.

The next nearest four hospitals meeting the standard are five hours and 300 miles away: Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago; NorthShore University Health System-Skokie Hospital in Skokie, Ill.; and Skyline Medical Center and Vanderbilt University Hospital, both in Nashville, Tenn.

Locally, Des Peres Hospital, Mercy Hospital and St. Louis University Hospital are the only ones to submit data to Leapfrog. The BJC and SSM systems declined to respond. They were asked, but can't be bothered to show that they care about their patients? Wow.

The discovery that hand washing dramatically reduces patient deaths came in 1840, 173 years ago. Our major local hospital systems can't or won't even admit that they follow the CDC hand washing standards. Maybe they don't know. Does that mean they don't care?

You are right that unacceptable medical mistakes and high patient death rates can only be fixed by fixing entire hospital systems. That will only happen when those who lead hospitals want it.

Anesthesiologists fixed their broken system, and deaths from anesthesia mistakes are 5 percent of what they were in 1950. Are there other groups of doctors successfully working to fix their specialty? If so, speak up on how you are doing it.

Until then, see you in 1841, again, next year.

Dave Boger  •  St. Louis

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Here's the reality: Mistakes like the unimaginable one that happened to Ms. Turner at the St. Claire Health Center are rare, but they do happen. The only recourse for patients is the court system. Lawmakers take away that avenue when they limit damages to a figure that insurance companies can write off as a matter of doing business.

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