Mount Nittany Health officials disagree with low Consumer Reports ranking

A recent Consumer Reports ranking slotted Mount Nittany Health toward the bottom of the state in avoiding surgery complications, but hospitals officials don’t think the report accurately reflects quality of care.

The report looked at Medicare surgery patients age 65 and older between 2009 and 2011 and defined complications as a length of stay longer than anticipated.

Gail Miller, Mount Nittany vice president for quality, said the problem is the methodology used billing statements and length of stay to determine complications instead of actual medical records. She said many times an added length of stay doesn’t necessarily equate to a complication.

“(Billing Statements) wouldn’t tell you if the patient had any complication; it just tells you if they stayed longer than they should have,” she said, adding that a reason for an extended stay could be something like taking additional time to choose a long-term care facility before leaving the hospital.

Spokeswoman Nichole Monica also stressed that people should look at more than one source of information before making the decision of choosing a hospital.

She said the hospital directly reports data to third party sources such as Hospital Compare, HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), the Joint Commission Report and Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance. She said those reports are designed to give people as much information as possible to select a hospital.

Mount Nittany Health President and CEO Steve Brown wrote a letter in the form of an advertisement in Wednesday’s edition of the Centre Daily Times to explain those concerns and give people more information.

Monica said the main reasons for the letter were to express disappointment in the Consumer Reports methodology and point people toward those other sources. The decision to write it came after some outside inquiries, and hospital officials wanted to clear up confusion.

“The reason we wanted to write this was because we wanted people to consider their health care, look at these websites and to be able to research information from third parties,” she said.

There was also a release posted on the homepage of the health system’s website addressing the issue, and it says they are “highly disappointed in the rating formula.”