SCRIPPS HEALTH: Five Hospitals Receive Low JCAHO Scores
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations rated five Scripps Health hospitals below average in 1999, but all the hospitals retained their accreditation, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The flagship of the Scripps system, Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, scored among the lowest 6% of U.S. hospitals, a dramatic drop from its 1996 scores. The national average is a score of 91. The La Jolla facility scored an 82, compared with a 91 in 1996. Scripps Memorial-Chula Vista scored an 86, Scripps-Mercy in Hillcrest received an 88, Green Hospital at Scripps Clinic La Jolla got an 89 and Scripps-East County scored a 90. Scores for Scripps-Encinitas have not been released. Hospitals are rated in several categories, including patient care, infection control, record keeping, error safeguards, confidentiality, ethics and patient rights, use of medications, nutrition and how the hospital assesses staff competence. Dr. Heather Palmer, professor of health policy and management at Harvard University, said that La Jolla's score "is a wake up call that says the hospital has got a lot of work to do." La Jolla failed to meet standards for assessing staff competence and whether qualified staff evaluates and approves patients for special treatments. Dr. Brent Eastman, chief medical officer for Scripps Health, said, "These are things we're very concerned about, and there are major efforts under way to correct them."
Underscoring the below average rating is the current "discord among the administration of Scripps Health and the physician medical groups." Four medical executive committees out of the six Scripps hospitals issued "votes of no confidence" in Scripps President and CEO Dr. Stanley Pappelbaum. Doctors also are "embroiled in monetary disputes" and charge that "the quality of care at the hospitals is being jeopardized by many things, such as low salaries for nurses and other workers, aging equipment and poor housekeeping." Scripps recently approved a $40 million budget, much of which will be spent on improvements and new medical equipment throughout the system (Clark, 5/15).