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Wyoming Hospitals Surveyed For Safety, Quality

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As national confusion over the future of health care continues, an organization in Wyoming is pressing hospitals to be more transparent.

Twelve hospitals across the state participated in a survey by the Leapfrog Group, which works with the Wyoming Business Coalition on Health to evaluate providers in the state. 

The assessment covered infection and injury rates, medication safety, and the quality of inpatient and maternity care. According to Wyoming’s Leapfrog Program Manager Linda Witko, encouraging providers to evaluate the safety and quality of their facilities will lower the cost of health care by reducing accidents and misdiagnoses.

“It makes the hospital set up a set of protocols to re-evaluate each time something like this comes up to say, what could we have done differently to make sure this doesn’t happen again. And if they are doing that, then they are cutting their costs,” Witko said.

But Wyoming Hospital Association Director Eric Boley said the state’s readmission rates are pretty low. Most hospitals in the state are in step with the national average. Across the country, 15 percent of patients unexpectedly return for more treatment. Boley said, the reasons for the high cost (and price) of hospital treatment in the U.S. are complex and involve insurers as well as providers.

Hospitals are already required to complete assessments to meet federal regulations. Boley said many of those hospitals that opted out of Leapfrog probably didn’t have the extra resources to devote to yet another survey. 

“It’s very, very labor intensive,” Boley said. “I’ve heard from some of my larger hospitals that it can take between 80 and 120 hours to complete the survey.”

For some smaller hospitals, Boley said, measures like the presence of an Intensive Care Unit unfairly downgrade the facility.

Witko said the standards are different for the state’s small, “critical access” and full-service hospitals. And, she said, Leapfrog’s results are more up to date and easier to interpret than assessments like Medicare’s Hospital Compare. In a state where many people may only have access to one hospital, Witko said, they should be able to find detailed information about that facility. 

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