BARSTOW • Former Barstow resident Michael Adams said his family, which lives near several hospitals in Victorville, has faced challenges in finding a good hospital.

His family has had some bad experiences at hospitals near his Adelanto home and for now have chosen to commute to their former hospital, Barstow Community Hospital, said Adams while he waited in the BCH lobby for his wife who was in surgery Wednesday.

You don't know "if it's an 'off' night or a consistent thing that's happening," said Adams.

Barstow Community Hospital officials hope that recently updated data on  government hospital rating Web site Hospital Compare will give people like Adams access to information that will help them choose where to go for medical care.

"We don't mind the transparency," said Michael Stewart, CEO of the hospital.

"We understand we're not going to be perfect," he said.

The Web site (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) allows visitors to search hospitals and compare services and patient ratings side-by-side. It is run by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"Everything's standardized so we're looking at the same thing," said Nancy Burdett, BCH chief quality officer.

As an example, 76 percent of surgery patients at BCH were given antibiotics within one hour before surgery to help prevent infection, compared to 96 percent of surgery patients at Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, according to the Web site.

However 56 percent of patients surveyed from BCH said they would recommend BCH to other patients, while 53 percent of DVH patients said they would recommend their hospital.

Maribeth Shannon, director of market and policy monitoring program for the California HealthCare Foundation, which also partners with hospital rating site cahospitalcompare.org, said these kind of rating sites help patients to shop around, but also make hospitals keep an eye on their competition.

"Hospitals care very much how they look," said Shannon.

Shannon noted that while Hospital Compare's Web site likely includes the broadest group of hospitals, the information is limited to mainly Medicare patients, with data like pneumonia-related deaths and heart failure aimed at older patients. It does not include data on maternity statistics, for example, which are the most frequent reason for hospital visits, she said.

Shannon said sites like hers, which does not include BCH in its ratings, offers a wider range of data on hospital care like pediatrics and intensive care.

The Web site includes ratings for acute care facilities like BCH, and not psychiatric or children's hospitals.

Stewart noted that BCH will get a one to two percentage payment in addition to the Medicare funding it receives for a limited time from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Service for providing data to the Web site.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or elee@desertdispatch.com