Penrose ranked in top 50

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services was named one of the 50 top hospitals by HealthGrades, a Boulder-based independent health care ratings organization.

HealthGrades analyzes patient outcomes at all 5,000 of the nation’s nonfederal hospitals, using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This marks the third year in a row the hospital has received the award, and it is the only hospital in the state to earn the top 50 designation.

Quality of care varies vastly when comparing patient outcomes in the top hospitals against the rest of the institutions.

Patients admitted to the top 50 hospitals are 27 percent less likely to die and 8 percent less likely to suffer from a major complication, when compared to patients at other hospitals. If all hospitals operated at the same level as the 50 best, more than 164,000 deaths and 18,900 in-hospital complications could have been prevented.

For Penrose CEO Margaret Sabin, the award is just the beginning.

“Looking to the future, our goal is to move beyond providing the best possible ‘illness care’ to providing ‘wellness care,’ thereby potentially reducing health care costs by helping our community to maintain good health,” she said.

To determine HealthGrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals, the company analyzed more than 130 million Medicare hospitalization records from every hospital in the nation. Hospitals must meet minimum thresholds for patient volumes, quality ratings and the range of services provided.

Specifically, hospitals were evaluated based on the risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates across 26 procedures and treatments, from hip replacement to bypass surgery. Hospitals that were in the top 5 percent of all hospitals for the most consecutive years were named HealthGrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals.

In addition, Penrose-St. Francis is ranked No. 1 in Colorado for overall critical care services in 2010 and among the top 5 percent in the nation for pulmonary, gastrointestinal medical treatment and critical care.

The rankings are free, but Penrose pays to use the information in advertising and has a consulting contract with HealthGrades.

Link examine weight, diabetes

Women who gain excessive weight during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester, might increase their risk of developing diabetes later in their pregnancy.

A three-year study of more than 1,100 pregnant women who gained more than the recommended amount of weight had a 50 percent increased risk of developing gestational diabetes.

The association between pregnancy weight gain and gestational diabetes was more pronounced among overweight and non-white women. The study included 345 pregnant women with gestational diabetes and 800 pregnant women without gestational diabetes.

Gestational diabetes is defined as glucose intolerance that typically occurs during the second or third trimester of pregnancy. It causes complications in as much as 7 percent of pregnancies in the United States. It can lead to early delivery, caesarean sections and type 2 diabetes — and can increase the child’s risk of developing diabetes and obesity later in life.

This study is among the first to support a direct link between pregnancy weight gain and gestational diabetes risk. Previous research has shown that weight gain before pregnancy and being overweight or obese at the start of pregnancy are risk factors for gestational diabetes.

“Health care providers should talk to their patients early in their pregnancy about the appropriate gestational weight gain, especially during the first trimester, and help women monitor their weight gain,” said the study’s lead author Monique Henderson, a scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. “Randomized studies are needed to determine the feasibility of this early intervention and the best methods to help women meet the IOM recommendations.”

Though the exact mechanism for how excessive weight gain may contribute to gestational diabetes is not known, researchers hypothesize that rapid weight gain early in pregnancy may result in an early increase in insulin resistance that leads to the “exhaustion” of the beta-cells in the pancreas that make and release insulin, which controls the level of glucose in the blood. This could reduce beta-cells’ capacity to secrete adequate levels of insulin to compensate for the insulin resistance induced by the progression of pregnancy and therefore lead to the development of gestational diabetes, researchers said.

A strength of the study is its representative and ethnically diverse population. However, some limitations should be considered. Pre-pregnancy weights were self-reported for most women. However, researchers have no reason to believe that the women who developed gestational diabetes would have misreported their pre-pregnancy weight more than control women and results were similar when looking at the sub-group of women who had a measured pre-pregnancy weight.

This study is part of ongoing research at Kaiser Permanente to understand, prevent and treat gestational diabetes.

Another published Kaiser Permanente study of 10,000 mother-child pairs showed that treating gestational diabetes during pregnancy can break the link between gestational diabetes and childhood obesity. That study showed, for the first time, that by treating women with gestational diabetes, the child’s risk of becoming obese years later is significantly reduced.

Amy Gillentine covers health care for the Colorado Springs Business Journal.