Reports not available for local hospitals
Both hospitals are accredited by The Joint Commission, the country’s largest private accreditor of hospitals. Because it is private, it is exempt from state and federal public records laws and federal Freedom of Information Act requests.
The AHCJ has called on The Joint Commission to voluntarily make reports from its inspections public, but the company has rejected that. As a result, details are available for hospitals in Portland, Salem and downstate communities as small as Gold Beach, but not for either of the two local hospitals.
“The AHCJ board cannot accept the notion that patients are best protected by keeping hospital problems secret,” AHCJ President Charles Ornstein, a senior reporter at ProPublica in New York, wrote Commission President Mark Chassin. “Such reasoning also flies in the face of growing consensus among health care leaders and policy makers about the importance of transparency to improve medical care quality.”
The secrecy means that “thousands of hospital inspection reports still remain under wraps,” the AHCJ said in a press release.
The reports released by the AHCJ detailed serious breakdowns at some Oregon hospitals, including errors leading to patient deaths. Those reports are available at www.hospitalinspections.org.
The Joint Commission does make some information available from its inspections, but it lacks the specifics and detail found in the federal inspection reports. It merely summarizes how well member hospitals performed in comparison with their peers on a state and national basis in various areas of care.
According to the agency, the Willamette Valley Medical Center was one of the “top performers on key quality measures” in both 2010 and 2011. It was rated “above the target range” in treating heart attacks and pneumonia, providing hip and knee replacements, performing hysterectomies and preventing infection.
The number of patients was not sufficient for rating on heart failure care and blood vessel surgery. It rated “at target range” for colon and large intestine surgery.
Providence Newberg was listed “above target range” in treating heart attacks and pneumonia, providing hip and knee replacement and preventing infection. It was listed “at target range” in colon and large intestine surgery and performance of hysterectomies. Patient volume was insufficient to rate heart failure care, blood vessel surgery and open heart surgery.
Providence Newberg also boasts an award from the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, which relies on confidential, voluntary reports from hospitals about patient safety problems.