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Tue, June 18

Parsons: Hospital rating system quite a ‘leap’
Talk of the Town

Yavapai Regional Medical Center, West Campus, at dusk. (Matthew Van Doren/Courier)

Yavapai Regional Medical Center, West Campus, at dusk. (Matthew Van Doren/Courier)

I was disappointed in the article “YRMC defends policies after ‘C’ rating from watchdog group,” on May 30, concerning the Leapfrog grading of Yavapai Regional Medical Center, as I did not see the appropriate context for your readers understanding of the nature of these so-called “watchdog” organizations.

These groups come to large organizations, such as hospitals, with a sales pitch that if the organization gives them a bunch of money, and statistics associated with the organization’s particular enterprise, they will give them a grade, such as an “A,” which they can use in advertising to tell the public what a great organization they are. Unfortunately, the flip side of this, is the Leapfrog-type outfits also say, like mafia enforcers, that if a given organization doesn’t participate, that will leave them no option but to give them a bad grade, such as a “C.” It is your basic shakedown!

Now think about it: Since YRMC didn’t give Leapfrog any information, how could this organization actually be in a position to give YRMC a grade? Remember, supposedly Leapfrog is getting all this information from 2,600 different hospitals and putting them on a scale. The hospitals that do not participate with Leapfrog, do not give them the information to put on the scale. So, Leapfrog goes out and gets basic information from the World Wide Web on YRMC (every hospital reports certain info to dozens of government regulators) as a fig leaf to cover their lack of information, and then puts out a poor grade for the hospital that didn’t give them their protection money, and then goes back to the hospital and says, “You better start participating with us, that is giving us money, or we will give you a ‘D’ next time.”

Leapfrog giving YRMC a grade, without getting any information from YRMC, is like your math teacher giving you a grade without having access any of your quiz scores!

I came to YRMC to head their Inpatient Palliative Medicine Department four years ago from an international medical center where I taught medical students and residents in training. We had patients come to us from all over the world to seek care. I moved here to be closer to my aging parents, and had some foreboding about working in a smaller, regional community hospital. Let me simply say, I have been nothing but impressed with the entire YRMC enterprise, from the medical staff to the administration. The fact that YRMC has an Outpatient Palliative Program, which many major medical centers do not have (the international center I came from did NOT have such a program), is evidence to the progressive vision and community-focused approach that YRMC has.

Do we have areas where we could improve? Of course. But it has been my experience that the culture here is one of chasing after excellence. I’ll take that every time over a letter grade from some Washington, D.C., shake-down artist.

Larry Parsons, MD, is director of Inpatient Palliative Medicine for Yavapai Regional Medical Center.

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