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HOSPITALS IN AREA PASS PATIENTS' QUALITY TESTS.

Byline: Dana Bartholomew Staff Writer

Patients gave satisfactory marks to many San Fernando Valley-area hospitals in a survey, released today, that rated the ``institutional bedside manner'' of California medical facilities.

The patient survey - the largest comparison of local hospitals ever made public - asked patients to rank their overnight experience in such categories as physical comfort, emotional support, coordination of care and transition to home.

Officials at about half the hospitals in the Valley region volunteered to ask patients to participate in the survey, and most received an average rating from patients, saying they would recommend their hospital.

``I think it validates what we think internally: We're a very customer- friendly hospital,'' said Rick Miller, spokesman for West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, which got top marks for care coordination and the involvement of family and friends.

The Patients' Evaluation of Performance in California or PEP-C survey, conducted by the Oakland-based California HealthCare Foundation and the California Institute for Health Systems Performance, was released today at www.calhospitals.com.

Survey analysts found that, across the state, patients gave above-average scores to 25 percent of hospitals and average scores to 57 percent, and they rated 18 percent of their hospital experiences below average.

Patients generally gave high marks for physical comfort, care coordination and respect for personal preferences. Lower marks were handed out for emotional support and information about side effects to expect when they got home.

The authors of the survey stressed that the ratings were meant to assist hospitals in improving services and were not meant to assess clinical results - or to brand hospitals as ``good'' or ``bad.''

``Patients, God love 'em, think that hospitals get the technical things right,'' said Dr. Mark Smith, president and chief executive officer of the California HealthCare Foundation.

``But what they do know from direct experience is whether their emotional needs were attended to, whether their pain was managed and whether the transition to home was explained,'' he said. ``It's a kind of institutional bedside manner, but (the survey) also says how good a job they're doing at certain tasks.''

The survey, conducted by mail by the National Research Corp., queried nearly 35,000 patients who had spent at least one night in an acute-care hospital between July and October of 2002. Of the 385 licensed hospitals - with 470 hospital sites across the state - 181 participated in the survey.

The California Healthcare Association, an industry advocate for hospitals, called the survey a harbinger of a coalition of federal and private industry patient surveys to be published beginning next month.

``There is definitely a growing sentiment that hospitals need to be more public in their evaluation of quality care,'' said Jan Emerson, spokeswoman for the association, who endorsed the PEP-C report.

In the Valley and eastern Ventura County, patients gave average marks to Glendale Adventist Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente Foundation hospitals in Panorama City and Woodland Hills, Northridge Hospital Medical Center's Roscoe Boulevard campus, West Hills Hospital & Medical Center and Los Robles Regional Medical Center.

Officials contacted at each hospital said that, even with the risk of going public, they chose to have patients participate in the survey as a positive addendum to regular in-house studies on patient satisfaction.

``Average scores - we're very pleased,'' said Kris Carroway-Bowman, spokeswoman for Los Robles. ``My feeling was: Let's use another source. Let's use the PEP-C thing. Let's see if our surveys were right. They were.''

Only Sherman Oaks Hospital and Health Center got a below-average score on overall patient satisfaction with care.

``We feel we were brave enough to confront our strengths and weaknesses,'' said Jami Feldstein, spokeswoman for Sherman Oaks Hospital, which also received below-average scores in respect for patient preferences, physical comfort and transition to home.

``We thought it was a valuable tool to perform better.''

Dana Bartholomew, (818) 713-3730

dana.bartholomew(at)dailynews.com

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Dr. Alan Kuban checks a patient at West Hills Hospital & Medical Center, which got some high marks in a new survey.

Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer

Box:

PATIENTS RATE LOCAL HOSPITALS

SOURCE: The Patients' Evaluation of Performance in California, 2003

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 25, 2003
Words:685
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