ogue Valley Medical Center scored highest among local hospitals in ratings compiled recently by Consumer Reports magazine.

RVMC ranked third among all Oregon hospitals, with a score of 77 out of 100. Ashland Community Hospital scored 68; Providence Medford Medical Center scored 67; and Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass scored 65.

The magazine rated more than 3,000 hospitals nationwide based on data collected by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. More than 1 million patients answered questions about topics such as communication with doctors and nurses, responsiveness of hospital staff, room cleanliness, quietness and pain management.

Kent Brown, RVMC’s chief executive officer, said he wasn’t too surprised by the ratings, because they are based on the same patient survey data that RVMC uses to conduct its own patient surveys. He said the magazine’s ratings allow patients to compare hospitals side-by-side, looking at information that even hospital managers usually see only for their own institution.

The comparative data helps hospital managers evaluate their performance against other hospitals, too, Brown said.

“We know how we do in comparison with the data base,” he said, “but not compared to other (local and state) hospitals.”

Silverton Hospital was Oregon’s top-rated hospital, with a score of 83. Mercy Hospital in Roseburg scored lowest, at 57.

No hospital in the national survey achieved a perfect score. Oakleaf Surgical Hospital in Eau Claire, Wisc., had the highest score, at 99. Some hospitals scored in the 20s, according to John Santa, director of Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

Santa noted that data was collected from at least 100 patients for every hospital in the survey. He said more than 300 patients reported their experiences at Providence Medford and RVMC. The number of surveys from Ashland could not immediately be determined.

Santa, who formerly managed the Oregon Health Plan, said the data can be useful for people who have the opportunity to choose where they are hospitalized, especially if they believe that what other people think of a particular hospital is important.

“I’d prefer the better-performing hospital to the lesser-performing hospital,” he said.

The results are published online at www.consumerreports.org/health. The site has an annual subscription fee of $19.95, and provides information beyond what is published in the magazine.

Besides the overall score, local hospitals were rated using the magazine’s familiar five-point, better-to-worse, colored-ball system, where 1 is the best score. RVMC scored 1 in doctor communication and nurse communication; 2 in room cleanliness; and 5 in discharge instructions given to patients. ACH scored 1 in doctor communication, 2 in nurse communication and room cleanliness and 4 in discharge instructions.

Providence Medford scored 2 in doctor communication, nurse communication and room cleanliness, and 5 in discharge instructions. Three Rivers scored 1 in doctor communication, 2 in nurse communication and cleanliness, and 4 in discharge instructions.

Tom Hanenburg, CEO for Providence Medford, said the data “shows where we can do better.

“What really pulled us down was noise on the (nursing) units,” Hanenburg said. “We’re really trying to work on that.”

Many patients in the national survey reported that hospitals could do a better job with discharge information, and Southern Oregon patients gave all four local hospitals poor grades for discharge information.

RVMC’s Brown said providing discharge information for patients “sounds like it ought to be simple, but executing it is difficult.”

He said many patients are still quite ill when they are discharged, and they may fail to remember some or all of the discharge information they receive.

Discharge information works best when it’s shared with a family member, Brown said.

“We give (patients) lots of printed information,” he said. “Patients don’t rate very highly what we are doing, but it’s kind of hard to say what we might be able to do better. For whatever reason, information we give to patients in discharge doesn’t seem to satisfy what they need when they get home.”

Mark Marchetti, CEO of Ashland Community Hospital, said the ratings suggest all local hospitals could do a better job of “embracing and involving our patients.”

He said hospitals have tended to focus on the technical, medical aspects of care while often neglecting the more personal issues, such as responding to patient needs and providing adequate information.

“It’s something we’re all working on,” he said, “as we struggle to do what we do.”

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail bkettler@mailtribune.com.