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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

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12/11/2012 5:00:00 PM
Hospital receives 'F' grade from patient safety advocacy group




Marty Bachman


BLYTHE - Blythe's Palo Verde Hospital has earned an "F" grade for doctors' misdiagnoses of illnesses, patients picking up infections and suffering injuries in the hospital and erroneous medication prescriptions.

The failing grade came from The Leapfrog Group, a nationally recognized nonprofit organization that surveys patient care data to analyze the safety of hospital patients.

It says the Palo Verde Hospital is one of 25 hospitals in the nation receiving an "F" grade.

The key statistics The Leapfrog Group uses to evaluate a hospital's safety include a doctor's misdiagnosis of an illness, infections incurred by patients in the hospital, injuries and the erroneous medication prescriptions by doctors.

Missy Danforth, senior director of hospital ratings at The Leapfrog Group, said the group grades hospitals on their performance on 26 measures of safety.

"Specifically, the composite score looks at how well hospitals put structures and processes in place to keep patients safe and at their actual incidences of accidents, injuries, and infections," Danforth said. "Hospitals that received poor grades need improvement in both areas - putting processes in place to keep patients safe and reducing their incidents of accidents, injuries and infections."

Doctors at Palo Verde Hospital receive privileges at the hospital from the Medical Executive Committee (MEC), which is comprised of doctors who already have privileges at the hospital. Hospital administrators and the CEO have no say in which doctors work at the hospital.

While the Healthcare District Board does ratify the medical staff recommendations, the board has overruled the medical staff only once in the past 10 years. In July of 2008, the staff refused privileges to Dr. Joseph Elisha, a Harvard-trained anesthesiologist with privileges at Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Hospital, both in the Coachella Valley.

When the board voted to grant Elisha privileges despite the medical staff's negative recommendation, the MEC sued. The staff dropped the suit when three new board members, Sandy Hudson, Jim Carney and Tim Maley won election the following November and Elisha never received privileges at the hospital.

Despite the seeming indictment of the medical staff, Dean J. Smith, of Taylor Blessy LLP of Los Angeles, attorney for the medical staff, blamed the former board and hospital administration for the problems incurred by hospital patients and said that the poor ranking of Palo Verde Hospital is not at all a surprise to the medical staff.

"For more than 10 years we have been fighting to stop the politics, favoritism, nepotism and cronyism on the part of certain members of the Board and its Administration which has quite often put the Medical Staff under attack for its patient advocacy," Smith wrote in an e-mail to the Times. "Our point all along has been that this is harmful to patient care. Now there is empirical evidence."

Smith said that interference by "certain members of the board" and its administration with the "hardworking nurses of this hospital" and a lack of cooperation with the medical staff has often delayed and prevented needed reforms.

"Imprudent and unnecessary hiring and promotion within the Administration as well as outrageously high and unwarranted executive salaries have taken money away from an already limited budget which could have and should have been used to pay for needed equipment upgrades and additional nursing care," he wrote. "The bottom line is that this report confirms that the people of Blythe got it right in the last election. The James Carney led majority, which included Quitty Piñon, Catalina McLain and Rosalie Carlton, controlled the Board during the time this Ranking was done and they are responsible for the mess Palo Verde Hospital currently finds itself in. Fortunately, the Medical Staff was able to prevent the lame duck Board led by Mr. Carney from causing any further damage after the election by obtaining a restraining order. The Medical Staff now looks forward to a period of cooperation with the newly installed Board. Together, we hope that we can put Palo Verde Hospital back on the right track so we can avoid lists like this one in the future."

Former Board President Jim Carney said that in the four years he served on the district board, he never once made a diagnosis of a hospital patient's illness or prescribed medication for them.

"But if the doctors want to blame me for that, go ahead," he said.

Hospital administrators responded that Palo Verde Hospital submits all of its quality and safety data to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and to the Joint Commission.

"Currently we are accredited with the Joint Commission and do not participate in The Leap Frog Survey process," said CEO Peter Klune. "The Leapfrog Group is a private not-for-profit organization used by some hospitals to measure safety."

Klune said that in reviewing the data of what is used to calculate the Leap Frog scores, several areas from the hospital are listed as "not available," resulting in a score based on partial and incomplete data.

"At Palo Verde Hospital our sample size, in most cases, is small, and can produce misleading results," he said. "We agree with UCLA, which is also on this list, that 'hospital report-card methodologies used by various quality improvement groups are inconsistent' and must be looked at with caution."

Klune said that Palo Verde Hospital is committed to providing safe, high-quality care, with the best customer service to patients and the community.

"In achieving this goal we have put forth education through committees for employees and physicians and acquired new equipment with the latest in technology. We continuously strive forward to ensure evidenced based practice and patient satisfaction. Our passion for helping people live healthier lives is at the heart of who we are today, with high-quality patient care, comfort, and safety in mind."

According to its website, "The Leapfrog Hospital Survey is the gold standard for comparing hospitals' performance on the national standards of safety, quality, and efficiency that are most relevant to consumers and purchasers of care."

The group formed 14 years ago when it realized employers were spending billions of dollars on health care for their employees with no way of assessing its quality or comparing health care providers. Using 26 national measures of safety, The Leapfrog Group calculates a numerical safety score for all eligible hospitals in the U.S. then converts the numerical safety score into one of five letter grades, A, B, C, D and F.

The Hospital Safety Score uses national performance measures from the Leapfrog Hospital Survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to produce a single score representing a hospital's overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. In addition, it uses secondary data from the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey to give hospitals as much credit as possible toward their safety score.









Related Stories:
• Dr. Mofu arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology
• Sahlolbei sues hospital in federal court
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• COLUMN: Bah! Humbug, Dr. Scrooge
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Medical staff needs to take responsibility for failing grade
• Medical staff awarded temporary restraining order to halt contracting of surgical services
• Medical staff seeks to restrain Healthcare District Board from contracting out surgical services
• Sahlolbei attorneys file demurrer in response to suit
• Anesthesiologist resigns over alleged harassment
• Sahlolbei no stranger to courtrooms: Hospital Chief of Staff has sued at least 17 people in Riverside Courts since 2000

Related Links:
• The Leapfrog Group
• Board responds to doctors' lawsuit
• Healthcare District files lawsuit against hospital surgeon, Hossain Sahlolbei


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: @ marty

I thought the hospital was on the right track? Guess maybe you guys ought to look into things a little better before you stick your neck out like that. Things like this will make your future endorsements ring a little hollow with the community!

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: give me a break

The reality is that the board and the CEO is where the buck stops. Ultimately it is there responsibility to remedy all the problems at hand. How can we expect a CEO that is here 3 days a week and on vacation for 6 weeks a year to have any clue of what is going on day to day. The old board on their way out even made it to where the CEO gets credit for time worked when he does things from home via video conferencing. (deleted) I guess he did not notice that we are failing in that area. Things must be bad when hospital employees are getting up at public meetings telling the new board about all the problems at PVH. These people know that they are sticking their necks out but obviously can not stand by and watch the administration run our hospital into the ground. I say fire the CEO, take the hit, and let's get our hospital back on track. We have to clean up the mess left by the CEO and the Jim Carney ran board before we lose our hospital.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe Karma

The doctors would have nothing to do with this Rating...

Yah Right !!!


Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: EL PICA BUYAS

Misdiagnoses of illnesses, patients picking up infections and suffering injuries in the hospital and erroneous medication prescriptions. That is the responsibility of the Doctors and Nurses. Saying that, what are they paying the Administrators for? In the end it all falls solely on the head of the Board Members. For failing to act, and not correct these mistakes. In other words from the head down and from down to the head. All of these people failed to do their jobs. It's time to start anew by closing this monstrosity of a thing that is called a Hospital.



Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Blythe's Entertainer U2CanBeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

THIRD WORST in the Country!!!! OMG!!!!!

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: just me

Well the blame shouldn't be placed on administration or board members.How ever it is and yes she was on the board and should be blamed as well fair is fair.Nobody but the doctors should be held liable.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: concerned mama

First and foremost, we need to stop bashing the one and only hospital our lil town has! C'mon people, these professionals are doing the absolute best that they can on the budgets that are allowed. Now I in no way involve myself in hospital politics, but as a member of this community, I can honestly say 95% of the time, my family and myself have been treated really well. The nursing staff is incredible and they are seriously not receiving enough credit for the hard work they do! Some of the doctors really need to take some lessons on bedside manner. If you're not in it to help the patient, then get the hell out of your practice!11 we do not come to you for help, to feel worse about ourselves when we leave your office.. To top it off, you hit us with co-pays when we already felt neglected.

I am currently 35 weeks pregnant, and I want to make sure that the labor and delivery staff is recognized for their AMAZING patient care. I have had to come in a couple of times with complications, and they stayed by my side and took the very best care of me... I would highly recommend them! Monica is a traveling nurse that is in charge of l&d currently, and I can honestly say, I've never seen someone work so hard, and genuinely love her profession. It truely shows to us patients, THANK YOU! I've also had the pleasure of being taken care of by Beth and Senita, two more fantastic ladies... Thank you PVH for everything you do! It doesn't always go unnoticed!


Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Just Say'n

I guess if the mec is saying the Board is to blame, then with sandy and trina on now will number 1 in no time.

Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Article comment by: Stats Star

It's about Par for the MEC (Doctors of PVH)would blame this grade on the Administration and the Board members. The grades are from 2009, so should we include Sandy too?




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