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Maine's Hospitals

Quality of Care in Maine Hospitals

Maine’s hospitals compare well with national comparisons. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality maintains 25 patient safety indicators. In the year 2000 Maine was equal to the national rate on 12 indicators, better than the national rate on seven indicators and worse than the national rate on six indicators.

Based on the data we have, hospitals of different sizes appear to deliver the same services with the same quality.  What services you can receive, depend on the size and location of the hospital.

Maine’s hospitals are of similar quality. Maine Quality Forum information shows that hospitals that are of the same size are of the same quality. Hospitals of different sizes seem to perform the same also on a common range of services. Each hospital chooses which services it offers. Each hospital must perform a service as well as any other hospital regardless of size. This does not mean that any hospital in Maine can provide all of the care that you need. When your problem is more serious or more complex, you will be sent to a hospital that can handle your problem. The Maine Quality Forum has information about quality that looks at only the big picture. Next year Maine Quality Forum will have information about what is happening within each hospital. In the future, you will be able to choose your hospital and doctor with more useful information.

Maine Quality Forum information on Maine’s Hospitals

For what services should I go to my local hospital? Does a hospital have to be a certain size to provide the quality and safety of care that I need? What is the role of medical education in my care? Can anyone measure the quality and safety of care in a hospital?

The Maine Quality Forum has attempted to answer some of these questions about quality of care in Maine hospitals. The detail of the information that we can give you now is not such that you can choose to always go to hospital A rather than hospital B because hospital A is always safer and better. When we looked at data from 2001 and 2002, we concluded that no hospital or size of hospital is better than any other hospital or size of hospital. (See Charts 12-28.) This does not mean that you can go to any hospital for any service and feel comfortable that you are getting what you need. What this does mean, is that with the tools at hand, we find that each hospital is doing as good a job at what it does do as the next hospital. You have to make your decision about which hospital based on needs at that point in time. You would not go to a 15 bed critical access community hospital for a kidney transplant but you would go to a critical access hospital for a colonoscopy (an exam where they physician looks into your bowel from the lower end) presuming that the physician at that location is credentialed (approved by the hospital Medical Staff and Board) to do the procedure.

Each hospital has a governing board and an organized medical staff that is responsible to see that the services performed in their hospital is performed as well as can be expected in any hospital.

There is an important difference between some hospitals. National organizations have recognized that hospitals that use electronic tools such as computerized physician order entry are safer. Computerized order entry is where the doctors themselves order your treatment directly into a computer while in the background the computer looks for possible errors or poor choices. The Leapfrog Group also concludes that hospitals and physicians that do at least a minimum number certain procedures are safer, with better results.  (Evidence-Based Hospital Referral)

The Maine Quality Forum working with the Maine Hospital Association and the Maine Health Management Coalition will have data looking at a small slice of hospital activity in the near future. Presently the Maine Hospital Association has information about service quality and a few care process indicators on its web site.

The Maine Health Management Coalition has additional information about hospitals and physicians at its site

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