Union Hospital ranked top 5 percent in emergency medicine in national study

DOVER -- Union Hospital's emergency medicine care has been ranked among the top 5 percent of all hospitals in the nation according to a new study released today by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. As a result, Union Hospital in Dover is a recipient of the HealthGrades 2010 Emergency Medicine Excellence Award.

Carey Gardner, director of Development and Community Relations, said Union Hospital is one of only 255 hospitals in the nation to receive this award.

"Over 4,900 hospitals were examined for their inpatient mortality rates in 11 of the most common life-threatening health emergencies for Medicare patients," Gardner said. "As a group, Union Hospital and the other award recipients had a 39 percent lower mortality rate for those 11 conditions studied. The mortality rates were risk-adjusted so that hospitals with sicker and older patients could be compared on equal footing with other hospitals."

Bruce James, president and CEO, said today's announcement is evidence that Union Hospital ranks among the best hospitals in the country when it comes to life-saving care.

"This Emergency Medicine Excellence Award is a tribute to the professional, technical, and support staff of the entire hospital," James said. "Achieving this level of success requires real teamwork, from the time the patient arrives in the Emergency Department to their care in the hospital following admission."

Dr. Thomas Kelly, vice president of medical affairs, credits a broad range of physicians and specialists who contribute to patient care from the time of emergency admission to their eventual discharge from the hospital.

"The HealthGrades award is further recognition of our long-term focus on improving our clinical outcomes," Kelly said. "This is the result of contributions by the entire medical staff including emergency physicians, the internists, surgeons, family practitioners, hospitalists, and critical care specialists."

"At Union Hospital, more than half of our inpatient admissions begin with emergency care," James said. "For many of these people, timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment can mean the difference between life and death."

Gardner said the HealthGrades study used 5 million Medicare patient records from 2006, 2007 and 2008 to analyze mortality rates of patients admitted to the hospital through the Emergency Department for these conditions: Bowel obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetic acidosis and coma, gastrointestinal bleed, heart attack, pancreatitis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke.

"With the CDC showing that 50 percent of hospital admissions are now beginning with hospital emergency rooms, it's more important than ever for hospitals to reach the level of excellence achieved by those in the top 5 percent of this study," said Rick May MD, a vice president with HealthGrades and co-author of the study.

"Those living in a community with a top 5 percent hospital in emergency medicine should feel extremely confident that, should an emergency arise, they will receive top-notch care," May said.

Dr. Michael McCombs, UH medical staff president, credits the work of the physicians and nurses hospital-wide for raising the clinical quality at Union Hospital and improving patient outcomes.

"This award is wonderful, for not only our hospital but also our community," McCombs said. "Our emergency care rivals that of any institution in the U.S. Our multidisciplinary approach to healthcare enables us to diagnose, triage, and provide timely care to our patients. This should make the people of our community proud of their hospital and give assurance that when they come to Union Hospital they will get professional and personal care."

Union Hospital is a 156-bed community hospital located on a 28-acre medical campus in Dover. The hospital employs approximately 1,000 people and has a medical staff of nearly 200 primary care and specialist physicians. Founded in 1906, Union Hospital is a locally owned and operated not-for-profit community hospital.