Boulder County hospitals

Boulder Community Hospital: 73

Longmont United Hospital: 59

Avista Adventist Hospital: 56

Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center: 54

Boulder Community Hospital earned the state's top score in a Consumer Reports study on patient safety at hospitals around the nation.

The study, published in March, gives Boulder Community Hospital a score of 73 out of 100, which was the top score in the state by five points and was high enough to place it in the top 15 nationally.

Dr. Paul Lewis, chief medical officer for Boulder Community Hospital, said the staff was "thrilled" to see the score.

"Everyone worked really hard to improve patient safety at our hospital, so it is gratifying to get that acknowledgment," he said.

The study looked into several factors to determine how safe hospitals were: mortality; the rate of readmission; the percentage of scans ordered twice for the same patient; a hospital's success at avoiding infections in patients; and communications.

Lewis said the first step for Boulder Community was identifying when human error was leading to harm to patients. In previous years, he said, hospitals attributed most patient deaths or harm to pre-existing conditions, but more recent studies have shown in some instances human error in hospitals is to blame.


Advertisement

"We've been on that journey for the last six to eight years," Lewis said. "We realized that humans by their very nature are error-prone, so we really got into where those errors come from and how we can reduce them."

He said the hospital focused on better communication as well as instituting checklists and yearly programs teaching patient safety to employees.

"We've really had our eye on the ball around patient safety," Lewis said. "We don't give ourselves a pass if something happens; we want to learn from every event of harm and find the root cause of the problem."

Although the top score in the state was a sign Boulder Community's efforts to increase patient safety are paying off, he said, the hospital still wants to improve.

"We just keep working on all the different parts of the health care continuum to stamp out errors," he said. "We're on a journey, and we'll probably never be satisfied ... but we can constantly try to get better."

The Consumer Reports study gave Longmont United Hospital a score of 59, Louisville's Avista Adventist Hospital a 56 and Lafayette's Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center a 54.

Longmont United Hospital released a statement on the rankings: "There are a lot of reports out there and we take each one seriously. We have a department dedicated to infection prevention and Longmont United Hospital is consistently rated above the national average. We have a patient safety and performance excellence department closely monitoring and improving scores on a continuing basis. Since the data was collected by Consumer Reports, we have instituted many new programs in the targeted areas measured."

Contact Camera Staff Writer Mitchell Byars at 303-473-1329 or byarsm@dailycamera.com.