Queen of the Valley Medical Center’s emergency department recently received top ratings from an independent consumers organization.
The nonprofit Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook gave the Queen the highest rating in three areas of emergency care: care of severe injuries/complex cases, minor injuries/ simple cases and inpatient hospital care.
The Queen was the only hospital in Napa, Marin and Sonoma counties to receive checkmarks in all three categories, said hospital spokeswoman Vanessa deGier.
Ratings were determined by using detailed information on emergency department staffing, survey data from Bay Area physicians, and survey data from patients who were Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers.
“Consumers’ Checkbook is the only resource of its kind in the country that is locally focused, nonprofit and advertising-free,” deGier wrote in an email. “Hospitals have no influence over their scores — unlike those which our competition loves to boast about.”
While deGier did not specify which other hospital she was referring to, the Napa Valley Register wrote a story in October about St. Helena Hospital winning a patient satisfaction honor. Hospitals needed more than 300 patient survey responses to be considered for the award from NRC Picker, a firm which contracts with its hospital clients for their feedback services.
“Third-party research and evaluation is very important in the health care industry,” said Joshua Cowan, spokesman for St. Helena Hospital. “We are so thankful that Napa Valley’s hospitals have both been recognized by independent third-parties as exceptional performers; our congratulations goes out to the great team at Queen of the Valley.”
Cowan added that St. Helena’s emergency room is consistently ranked between the 96th and 99th percentile for overall care by patients through an independently administered survey.
To rate the care of severe injuries/complex cases, the Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook sent surveys to “practically every office-based physician” in the Bay Area, said Kevin Brasler, executive editor for the Consumers’ Checkbook.
Doctors were asked to recommend their two most desirable hospitals for emergency care. Consumers’ Checkbook also analyzed emergency department staffing, including which specialists were available 24 hours a day and which ones were on-call.
To rate minor injuries/simple cases, the data relied on patient surveys, which asked about the speed of service and “pleasantness” of staff.
Based on patient responses, Queen of the Valley scored an overall 96 percent rating for emergency room care — the fourth highest score out of the 67 Bay Area hospitals included in the ratings.
Brasler said there isn’t a lot of available data on hospital emergency departments, despite the fact that many patients are admitted through the ER. That’s why the ratings relied heavily on physician and patient surveys, he said.
In true medical emergencies, Brasler said people should call 911 and be taken to the closest available hospital. But for people who don’t have to call an ambulance, they may want to carefully consider their options in emergency care — and receiving all three “checkmarks” for a hospital emergency department is a “strong indicator of quality,” Brasler said.