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Duluth hospitals get near-average marks for patient satisfaction

Duluth's two largest hospitals came in slightly under the state average for patient satisfaction in a survey of nonmedical quality released Tuesday. The Minnesota Hospital Association, which organized the survey, said it's the first time patient ...

Duluth's two largest hospitals came in slightly under the state average for patient satisfaction in a survey of nonmedical quality released Tuesday.

The Minnesota Hospital Association, which organized the survey, said it's the first time patient perspectives on hospitals have been tallied and made available to consumers in a format that allows them to compare hospital results head-to-head.

Sixty-three percent of recently discharged patients surveyed gave both St. Mary's Medical Center and St. Luke's hospital a rating of nine or 10 on a scale on which 10 was the highest score possible.

The state average is 65 percent and the national average is 63 percent, according to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems survey.

The survey pertained only to hospitals, so facilities such as the Duluth Clinic and Miller-Dwan Medical Center were not included.

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The survey, which was administered by third-party survey groups, asked patients about such things as the cleanliness of their rooms and bathrooms and whether the area around their room was quiet at night.

Of the 10 areas of the consumer assessment, St. Mary's Medical Center fared better than the state average in two -- whether a patient would recommend the hospital and whether a patient received information about at-home recovery -- and was at or below the state average in the other eight areas.

Patients gave St. Mary's its worst ranking when asked whether the area around their room was "always" quiet at night, with only 49 percent of respondents giving it a ranking of nine or 10.

Dr. Hugh Renier, SMDC Health System's vice president of medical affairs, said he was pleased with St. Mary's Medical Center's overall ranking. He added the facility is trying to address the noise situation by doing things like replacing some overhead paging with other ways of communicating.

St. Luke's hospital ranked above the state average in the same areas as St. Mary's Medical Center. It also surpassed the state average on whether a patient's doctor "always" communicated well and whether a patient felt that his or her pain was "always" controlled.

St. Luke's also fared worse when former patients were asked if the area around their room was "always" quiet at night. Fifty-one percent of patients gave the hospital a nine or 10 ranking on that question.

St. Luke's spokespeople did not return calls seeking comment.

Fifty-two hospitals across the state participated in the first round of voluntary collection, Minnesota Hospital Association spokeswoman Amy Harris said. Springfield Medical Center in Springfield, Minn., earned the highest percentage of nine or 10 ratings with 82 percent of respondents giving it those scores.

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Survey data was collected between October 2006 and June 2007.

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