Emergency Room Harborview Medical Center
The top three regional hospitals that US News and World Reports put on its list couldn't even crack the top-10 in Consumer Reports review of Washington hospitals. (AP Photo/File)

Consumer Reports study claims Seattle hospitals are unsafe

We hear all the time that Seattle is a great place to get sick because our hospitals are so good, but the latest Consumer Reports study calls that into question, giving Seattle's hospitals low marks for safety.

So which is it?

The top-3 regional hospitals that US News and World Reports put on its list couldn't even crack the top-10 in Consumer Reports review of Washington hospitals. According to the statistics Consumer Reports used, UW Medical Center only managed to be the 13th safest hospital in Washington, and it only received a score of 55 out of 100 when it comes to safety.

Northwest Hospital was ranked 17th; Harborview was 26th; Virginia Mason 27th; Swedish 31st; all hospitals that routinely get high marks from patients and national organizations for their quality of care.

But here is the criteria the publication used: It looked at whether ICU patients got infections from catheters, whether patients had to be re-admitted, whether new drugs were explained to patients and if they have electronic records.

Not exactly a complete list of hospital safety criteria, but Dr. John Santa who helped compile the list for Consumer Reports said the list is meant to highlight that hospitals make mistakes and the public needs to be aware of that.

"Most of us go to hospitals in order to get better," he said. "We don't really think that we could get worse. Sad to say, hundreds of thousands of Americans are injured in hospitals every year."

This study, however, did not look at those injury numbers in making its rankings. "One of the country's experts on hospital safety suspects that deaths from hospital care may be the third leading cause of death in the country," Dr. Santa said. But yet again, hospital deaths were not included in the ranking criteria.

The average safety score for the nation's hospitals was 49 out of 100.

The safest hospital in Washington, according to Consumer Reports, is Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.

Chris Sullivan, KIRO Radio Reporter
Chris loves the rush of covering breaking news and works hard to try to make sense of it all while telling stories about real people in extraordinary circumstances.
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