Thursday, October 05, 2006
Hospital data is now on-line for comparison
By Dr. Anthony Policastro

The age of computers has created a lot of data on-line. That is true for non-medical data. It is also true for medical data. For a few years now, hospitals around the country have been submitting data to a national medical data bank. The information has been compiled. The numbers are available for viewing on line. The website allows individuals to look at their local hospitals. It allows them to compare their local hospitals to other hospitals in the county. It allows them to compare local hospitals to other hospitals in the state. The website is www.hospitalcompare. This site has information on four types of medical treatment. One of those is treatment for heart attacks or MI. The information shows how often hospitals use aspirin for these patients. It shows how often these patients are told to quit smoking. It looks at how often these patients receive other suggested drugs. A second one of those is heart failure. Again there is information on drugs that are used. There is information on smoking cessation. There is information on giving patients instructions about their condition. A third one of those is pneumonia. The information includes choice of the correct antibiotic. It includes getting the antibiotic in a timely fashion. It includes giving appropriate vaccines for patients with pneumonia. The fourth one is about using antibiotics to prevent infections during surgery. It includes the choice of antibiotics. It also includes the timing of giving the antibiotics. Those are the only four conditions that are currently being looked at. The information has been submitted to the website for quite some time. There will be other items included in the future, but this information is all available right now. In most cases, it will let patients see how well the hospital they have chosen performs against national and state standards. There are a couple of things about the data that require some explanation. The first of those is related to documentation in the medical record. In order to report that something has been done, it must appear in the medical record. If it is not found in the record, it does not count as having been done. So someone might have told a heart attack patient to quit smoking. However, if it were not documented, it would look like it was not done. A good example of this is the discharge instructions for patients with heart failure. The written instructions must include five items. These are things like diet or weight gain. If any one of the five items is missing, then it is recorded as not being done at all. Even if a hospital consistently does four out of five, the numbers might still be very low. The second item has to do with the small number of patients in some of the smaller hospitals. They may not have enough patients with the four diagnoses for the numbers to be included on the graphs. However, if you click on the portion of the graph for that particular hospital, you will see the actual small numbers. For example, a hospital may have done the right thing for 6 out of 6 patients. That information will be there. However, 6 patients may be so few that it does not show up on the graph. It is important to be an informed user of medical services. Everyone with a computer should think about spending some time comparing the hospital they use most frequently with some of the neighboring hospitals. It is likely that you will be pleasantly surprised.

Dr. Anthony Policastro is medical director at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital.

Nanticoke announces Leadership honorees
Nanticoke Health Services recently announced the recipients of the 2nd Annual Nanticoke Tributes for Healthcare Leadership. The awards will be presented at a dinner and reception on Nov. 2 at the Baywood Greens. The Founders Award will be presented to Karl Brown, Sr. for his role in the establishment of Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in 1952. This award will be presented posthumously to his family. The Charles C. Allen, Jr. Philanthropy Award is being awarded to The Auxiliary of Nanticoke Health Services. The Nanticoke Tributes will also recognize the two new inductees into the Nanticoke Physicians Hall of Fame. This year, Judith Tobin, MD and John Lynch, MD will be presented with the Hall of Fame Award. The dinner will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at Baywood Greens in Long Neck. Mitzi Perdue will be the guest speaker. Tickets are $75 and may be purchased by calling 629-6611, ext. 2404.

CNA Recognition Day
Certified nurses' assistants (CNAs) from Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland will gather at Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus, on Oct. 20, from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., for the 10th annual CNA Recognition Day. This event also will honor the recipient of the 2006 CNA of the Year Award. The winner is selected from nominations submitted by employers, patients, family, and friends. "Nurses' Assistants: Hearts Guiding Hands that Care" is the theme for this year's celebration which will offer CNAs an opportunity to improve their professional skills, develop their professional identity, and increase their sense of pride and self-esteem. Co-sponsored with local hospitals, long-term care facilities, and home health agencies, the event includes workshops, exhibits, and networking opportunities. The program offers 5.4 nursing contact hours from Delaware Tech in compliance with the Delaware Board of Nursing Rules and Regulations. Patricia Hildebrand, RN, who began her career as a nurses' assistant and graduated from Delaware Technical & Community College, is the keynote speaker. Using her experience as a CNA and as a supervisor and trainer of others in that position, she developed and implemented a state-approved nurses' assistant training course and taught both classroom and clinical sections. During her 29-year career in long-term care, Hildebrand has developed a thorough understanding of the caregiver's role through her experiences as a student, a nurses' assistant, a supervisor, an instructor, a mentor, and an administrator. She currently serves as the health care center director at Methodist Manor House in Seaford and has direct responsibility for the quality of care provided to the residents. Hildebrand is pursuing her Nursing Home Administrator license. The $35 registration fee includes handouts, lunch, and refreshments; those with special dietary needs should call 302-855-5988. For more information, or to register, contact Delaware Tech's Corporate and Community Programs at 302-854-6966.

Coca Cola Bear to visit
Healing Hugs, a community outreach program co-sponsored by Sodexho Health Care Services and Coca Cola, will be held at Nanticoke Memorial Hospital on Friday, Oct. 6. The highlight of the program is a visit from the Healing Hugs Polar Bear, who will make an appearance at the hospital main lobby from 12:30 to 2 p.m. The public is invited to attend this special event and meet the Bear and his Bear Buddy, who will be taking a break from their busy schedule of visiting pediatric patients for this special occasion.

Nanticoke Auxiliary Winter Dance 'Puttin' on the Glitz'
Nanticoke Health Services Auxiliary Winter Gala committee has begun preparations for the annual dinner dance event to be held January 27, 2007 at the Seaford Golf and Country Club. This year's 1930s theme, "Puttin' on the Glitz," will feature Art Deco decorations in a Grand Ballroom. Those attending will enjoy elegant food followed by the music of Encore while they whirl across the dance floor. Dust off your spats and top hats and put on your pearls and enjoy this memorable evening. Linda Robertson is the chairperson for the annual gala event. She is assisted by Bonnie Allen, Patty Burk, Sharon Mears, Janet Hubbard, Judi Thoroughgood and Jenny Werner. Proceeds from the event will be part of the auxiliary's annual donation to Nanticoke Health Services. More details about "Puttin' on the Glitz" can be obtained by calling the Nanticoke Health Services Volunteer Office at 629-6611, ext. 2301.