Tuesday, November 9, 2010 1:56 PM

Five stars three years in a row for vascular surgery at Fresno Heart & Surgical

Vascular surgeon Randall G. Stern says Fresno Heart & Surgical Hospital keeps focused on its areas of expertise – cardiac care and surgery – makes sure nurses are well-trained and that the patient experience is top notch. All those things combine to earn the hospital 5-star ratings year after year after year.

For the third year in a row, Fresno Heart & Surgical has received a top rating for the quality of its vascular care from HealthGrades®, a national independent health care ratings organization. The recognition is based on HealthGrades’ 13th annual Hospital Quality in America study, which analyzed patient outcomes at 5,000 hospitals nationwide. HealthGrades found that typical patients at 5-star rated hospitals had an 80.40% lower risk of developing one or more in-hospital complications compared to those in a 1-star hospital, and a 63.64% lower risk of developing in-hospital complications compared to the U.S. hospital average.

“We just get more practiced every year,” said Dr. Stern of the Fresno Heart & Surgical’s repeated high marks. “This hospital offers a great experience to patients from start to finish, with good work ups before surgery and care in post-op to stabilize patients’ blood pressure. This rating recognizes our staff’s dedication, hard work and focus on clinical excellence.”

Dr. Stern, who is also associate clinical professor of surgery for UCSF, said that for patients the 5-star rating means they can have confidence in staying close to home to have the high risk carotid surgery.

Wanda Holderman, the hospital’s chief executive officer, praised the vascular surgery team, “We’re proud of the continued success of our hospital staff and affiliated surgeons’ whose focus on quality care means we have significantly fewer complication rates.”

This third recognition for carotid surgery excellence marks top clinical ratings for all of the hospital’s main surgery lines – including HealthGrades’ Bariatric Surgery Excellence Award for the past two years, putting the hospital among the top 5% in the nation. Patients also give the surgical hospital accolades for its amenities, care and service; for the past three years, Fresno Heart & Surgical has earned the “Outstanding Patient Experience Award” from HealthGrades.

HealthGrades’ hospital ratings and awards are based on data that hospitals are required to submit to the federal government. No hospital can opt in or out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated. Because the risk profiles of patient populations at hospitals are not alike, data is risk-adjusted to allow for valid comparisons. The full study and recent hospital ratings are posted at http://www.healthgrades.com/.

This story was reported by Erin Kennedy. She can be reached at MedWatchToday@CommunityMedical.org .