Modern Healthcare Magazine Ranks Arkansas Hospitals in Top 10 for High Mortality Rates

Unfortunate Rankings

If you’re not a subscriber to Modern Healthcare, you missed the journal’s Dec. 9 ranking of hospitals with the highest and lowest mortality rates across the county.

It wasn’t good news for Arkansas. Three of our state’s hospitals landed in the top 10 for the highest mortality rates for heart attacks, heart failures and pneumonias based on numbers from July 2009 to June 2012.

Conway Regional Medical Center came in at No. 4, followed by both of the Arkansas hospitals owned by Capella Healthcare of Franklin, Tenn.: St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Russellville, No. 5, and National Park Medical Center in Hot Springs, No. 8.

While the average U.S. hospital mortality rate was 12.89 per 1,000 patients per year, Conway’s came in at 17.23, St. Mary’s 17.13 and National Park at 16.4.

The data included numbers from the patients who died in the hospital or within 30 days after they were discharged.

The hospital with the lowest mortality was NYU Langone Medical Center in New York at 8.2. No hospitals in Arkansas placed in the top 10 for the lowest mortality rates.

Conway Regional has improved its mortality rate since 2009, when it was the highest, said Jim Lambert, president and CEO of Conway Regional Health System.

“We’ve brought in outside experts, implemented a number of things, and I think we’re seeing improvement,” Lambert said.

The improvement, though, isn’t noted in the chart because the data used is cumulative, he said.

“It’s like your GPA in college,” Lambert said. “If you start out bad, it’s hard to climb out of the hole. That’s kind of where we’ve been.

“We don’t think this is a true reflection of the care that’s being rendered today,” he said.

Neither St. Mary’s nor National Park Hospital had a spokesperson available for comment last week.