Penrose-St. Frances Health Services is ranked the No. 1 hospital for critical care services in Colorado.

An annual survey by Healthgrades, a Boulder-based company, ranks the system in the top 5 percent nationally. The nation’s 5,000 non-federal hospitals were included in the study, which examined mortality rates and complication rates from government data for 2006, 2007 and 2008.

The hospital system was five-star rated for treatment of heart failure, stroke and pulmonary services. It also was rated five-stars for overall pulmonary services and treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and for treatment of pneumonia.

Memorial Health System received three stars in most services — including cardiac care. Memorial won awards during 2006 for its cardiology program.

The study, which reviewed 40 million Medicare hospitalization records, shows an increasingly wide gap in quality between the nation’s best hospitals and all others.

Patients at highly ranked hospitals have a 52 percent lower chance of dying compared with the U.S. hospital average, a chasm that exists even as mortality rates in general have declined.

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The study also found that hospitals that are accredited in stroke certification by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organization had an 8 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality rate than hospitals without the certification.

The 2010 hospital ratings are available at, where patients can compare the quality of care for 28 procedures.

“The fact is, patients are twice as likely to die at low-rated hospitals as at highly rated hospitals for the same diagnosis and procedures,” said Rick May, author of the study. “With Washington focused on rewarding high-quality hospitals and empowering patients to make more informed health care choices, this information comes at a turning point in the health care debate.”

Other study results include:

Overall, in hospital, risk adjusted mortality at the nations hospitals improved on average 10.9 percent.

Across all 17 procedures and diagnoses in which mortality was studied, there was a 71.6 percent lower chance of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared to a one-star hospital.

There was a 51.3 percent lower chance of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared to the national average.

If all hospitals performed at the level of a five-star rated hospital across the 17 procedures studied, 224,537 lives could have been saved.

About 57 percent of the potentially preventable deaths were associated with just four diagnoses: sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure and respiratory failure.

During the last three studies, Ohio and Florida have the greatest percentage of hospitals in the top 15 percent for risk-adjusted mortality.

Five star hospitals have a 79.69 percent lower risk of complications for patients, compared to a one-star hospital.

Across all procedures, there was a 61.2 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more hospitals complications compared to the U.S. average.

New visitor restrictions

Hospitals across the state are implementing visitor restriction in an effort to stop the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu — as well as protect seriously ill patients from the viruses.

All Colorado hospitals are restricting people with flu-like symptoms from visiting, and most are not allowing children to visit. Many state hospitals also are limiting the number of visitors in a patient’s room.

Visitation restrictions include:

Centura Health is restricting visitors 18 and younger; Penrose-St. Francis Health Services is restricting visitors younger than 12.

HealthOne is restricting all visitors younger than 18.

Exempla is restricting all visitors younger than 18, and all visitors will be screened for flu symptoms when they enter the hospital.

Banner Health is restricting visitors 12 and younger.

The Children’s Hospital is restricting visitors 12 and younger.

Memorial Health System has restrictions in place for pediatrics, the intensive care unit, the coronary care unit and the neonatal intensive care units. No children 12 or younger will be allowed to visit. Adult visitors are limited to four. Visitors might be required to wear a mask, be asked to visit another time or asked to adhere to other special precautions.

Area hospitals also are saying people should not visit friends or relatives in the hospital if they are pregnant or have weakened immune systems.

As H1N1 continues to spread, restrictions are likely to change, said Steven Summer, president of the Colorado Hospital Association.

Anyone planning to visit a hospital should call the facility or check the hospital’s Web site before visiting. Restrictions will be enforced and hospitals will not allow children to be in waiting areas unattended.

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


  1. Just curious, Amy, … how much does Penrose pay HealthGrades to promote their award?

    Is HealthGrades a non-profit or for-profit organization?

  2. HealthGrades is an independent hospital rating company. They obtain their information using data that everyhospital in the naiton provides The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It is a for-profit reserch company, but it makes money not from advertising its awards, but from proovding reports to interested consumers and policy makers.

    Their Web site is, if you need more information.

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