A new study ranks Penrose-St. Francis Health Services among the top 5 percent of hospitals in the country for its clinical quality.

It is the seventh year that the local hospital system earned high rankings from HealthGrades, a private, nonprofit group that ranks hospitals based on information provided to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Penrose is the only hospital in Colorado to be ranked this year.

The study by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, analyzed patient outcomes at each of the nation’s 5,000 nonfederal hospitals during  2006, 2007 and 2008, and named hospitals in the top 5 percent as HealthGrades Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence.

Penrose-St. Francis was also recognized as one of “America’s 50 Best Hospitals” for 2008 and 2009 by HealthGrades.

According to the eighth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and the other hospitals in the top 5 percent, demonstrated patient outcomes that far exceeded those of other hospitals. Patients admitted to these hospitals had risk-adjusted mortality rates that were, on average, 29 percent lower than all other hospitals. Risk-adjusted complication rates were, on average, 9 percent lower than all other hospitals.

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“Our data show that only a select few hospitals achieve high-quality patient outcomes not just in a few categories of care, but across the board and over time,” said Rick May, vice president with HealthGrades and an author of the study.

As a group, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services and those identified as being in the top 5 percent in the nation improved their mortality rates at a faster pace than all other hospitals. Over the years 2006, 2007 and 2008, the HealthGrades study found that Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence lowered their risk-adjusted mortality rates over the three years by an average of 14 percent, compared with a 10 percent average improvement of all other hospitals.