Many people find that it’s difficult to research hospitals. Based on the lack of information that is publicly available, it seems that most people select a hospital based on advertising, a location close to home, or which one has the most comfortable sofas.
In Texas, pro-hospital laws keep a tight lid on the confidentiality of hospital records and actions concerning bad health care outcomes, peer review, and bad doctors. Unlike virtually any other industry, even in litigation it’s impossible to subpoena these key records.
One source of information that’s becoming information increasingly available is accreditation data. In order to receive funding from Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance companies, hospitals must be accredited. The nation’s oldest and best recognized accrediting agency is The Joint Commission.
As a former hospital administrator, I’m well aware how requirements of The Joint Commission capture the attention and focus of hospital leaders like little else ever can. In the last few years, it has shifted its attention to two important areas involving newborns: Cesarean birth rates and unexpected complications in term newborns.
The Joint Commission requires accredited hospitals to report the rates of cesarean deliveries among low-risk women (first birth with the term, singleton baby in a vertex position). Many obstetrical experts are concerned that hospitals are pushing for cesarean deliveries when they are necessary. The target is under 30%.
Term infants are considered those born at least 37 weeks into gestation, and account for about 90% of all live births in the United States. The accrediting agency is tracking hospital reporting of overall complication rates, as well as moderate and severe rates, for term newborns with no pre-existing conditions.
Severe complications in term infants include death, transfer to a hospital for a higher level of care (neonatal intensive care unit/NICU), severe birth injuries including intracranial hemorrhage or nerve injury, neurologic damage, sepsis, and extensive respiratory issues. Moderate complications in term infants include bone fractures, use of CPAP for less severe respiratory complications, and babies who require a hospitalization of over five days.
The good news for patients and healthcare consumers is that beginning in January 2021, these data will be available on the Quality Check website. I encourage you to check out this free site, where you can search by hospital or location. In addition to the measures I just discussed, the detailed listings include whether the hospital is generally accredited, what specific programs are certified or accredited, and any concerns based on bad trends from hospital data.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor hospital care in Texas, then contact a top-rated experienced Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your potential case.