Hospital Safety Scores

You can look up the safety rating for a particular hospital or for all the hospitals in a certain city or an entire state at:

Hospitals are given a grade, such as “A” “B” or “C” and you can also see the detailed breakdown for each category contributing to the overall score. For example, one category is: Surgery Patients Received Appropriate Treatment to Prevent Blood Clots at the Right Time.

That category particularly grabbed my attention, because the hospital at which I suffered near-fatal, severe clotting during a surgical procedure 9 year ago (Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, NH) scored 98 in that category, with the very best hospitals in this category scoring 100. (Spot checking a verious hospitals, I saw a score in the clotting prevention category of 89, which shocked me. Even a 98 score is unacceptable if you are among the 2 percent of patients put at risk by a hospital’s negligence.)   

Six Vermont hospitals are rated for safety on this site, as follows:


“A”  Central Vermont Medical Center, Barre.

“A”  Southeastern Vermont Medical Center, Bennington.

“B”  Fletcher Allen Hospital, Burlington.

“B”  Rutand Regional Medical Center.

“C”  Brattleboro Memorial Hopsital

“C”  Northwestern Medical Center, Inc., St. Albans.

Grace Cottage in Townshend is not rated on this site.


I was amazed to see that in Massachusetts, 43 hospitals received safety ratings of “A.” Thirteen, “B,” and only one “C.” The safety record of Massachusetts hospitals puts both Vermont and New Hampshire to shame.

Comments | 2

  • BMH not for me..

    I was with someone who suffered a heart event in Connecticut… within 20 minutes, a helicopter crew was preparing the patient for a flight to Yale New Haven. By the time I drove the distance, the surgery was underway and word was waiting for me that all was going well.

    A heart attack in Brattleboro, and 20 minutes later the patient was in the BMH ER but had not yet been evaluated. Two hours later, that patient was transported to Dartmouth.

    In both instances, all ended with good results, but had the events been reversed in terms of location, the patient could easily have died.

    I have connected myself with an out of town (and out of state) hospital so that if ever there’s a true emergency, I won’t have an unnecessary pit stop at the BMH ER, where I have always felt (and still do) that the waiting room chair will become the last seat I take. It may sound harsh of me to put it so bluntly, but life or death situations don’t leave room for good manners as forefront.

    BMH “emergency” visits, I read recently, were in the high numerical value of something to the tune of 14,000 “admissions” per year in this dinky little area. It’s kind of misleading however. I don’t claim to know actual emergency numbers in terms of admissions (which is simply having a wrist band applied while at the ER) but I can say That many visits to the BMH “emergency room” are actually acute care visits and many others are for concerns that could wait for the primary care doctor, for those who have one. I believe that there are very many ER visits that are in reality, a piecemeal way to receive health care for people who do not have a PCP, mainly because they don’t have insurance.

    I had been hoping that BMH would add an acute care center, or even a clinic of sorts. Instead, they expand upon an emergency center that is actually ill prepared (IMO) for any true emergency situation. I also feel this is not an oversight… ER services can be billed at such very high rates compared to routine visits for aches and pains of various sort, and now, just in time for the insurance mandates.

    Being a community hospital I am disappointed to see they don’t really address what the community has needed. The Brattleboro Area walk in clinic, I used to think, would have been a good fit for the bulk of the ER patient visits and wished that BMH would have taken that volunteer effort into their own facility and given them some additional help with the good work they’ve somehow managed to do for so many years. I don’t know. Just seems backwards to me. I think BMH has capitalized on the lack of alternative care for those without a PCP, or without insurance, or both. I don’t think it’s coincidental. It’s a business, after all.

    I am guilty of using the ER for acute care when I didn’t have a PCP and had relied on the weekly clinics. Problem being there are situations where waiting a week just can’t happen. The real emergency was not having my own PCP. I know I am/was not the only one. There are simply no other options within town. I just recently paid the last of what I owed for the last visit I made, over two years ago. A horrible expense given that all I needed was an antibiotic for an infection that developed near a hang-nail. But I did not have a PCP in town, and found no one taking new patients (over a six year span!!!) in time to save me from contracting a nasty bug while in the very ER that had no qualms in charging me true emergency rates to prescribe a med for a painful, but much less serious, infection.

    Now that I have a very good PCP in another state, I have options. I won’t even visit a patient in BMH for fear of catching another bug and will avoid at any cost a visit to BMH ER. I personally feel that being give a “C” was an extremely generous act on behalf of the person who gave it.

    While they are a small town hospital, it is also not fair to have big-time expectations for emergency or trauma situations, but I feel the hospital should be very upfront (and make it a point) about what they can and cannot do for people who end up in their ER, and from my own experiences, their ER isn’t a true emergency room .. it’s more a portal to one elsewhere in the region should a person require it, and survive long enough to reach the emergency care they need. As such, they should not be allowed to charge fees as if they are providing that same level of emergency care that is only available elsewhere.

    • Emergency Room

      During the past 10 years I have had 3 experiences with the BMH Emergency Room (twice for myself, and once accompanying a friend with a life-threatening emergency) and I agree with Babalu that there is reason for serious concerns.

      No doubt running an ER is stressful and challenging, and they do save lives. But I am sure that even the CEO of BMH would agree with me that the hospital must pay attention to problems and diligently work to improve the care.

      During the recent visit, my friend waited for 4 hours, and when she was finally seen by a doctor, the ER’s course of action was so inappropriate that she left, figuring that — despite her medical situation — it was safer for her not to be there.

      What particularly struck me was the lack of communication. No one told us to expect a long wait, and there was no attempt to explain why the wait would be so long. This is in stark contrast to an experience I had at Grace Cottage, where I was told the reason a physician was delayed (he was treating 4 people who had been on an auto accident) and given reassurance and support.

      After my friend finally got to see the physician at the BMH ER, he spoke very little to us, and then left. We thought he would return shortly, but instead we ended up waiting a half hour in the room, isolated and confused about what was going on, and what to expect next.

      When they finally did get back to her, it was not a physician, but a staff person, who looked half-dazed or apathetic, and who, in response to a question from my friend, admitted to being very inexperienced.

      When my friend rejected the (inappropriate) treatment that BMH proposed for her, a nurse who spoke with her expressed no concern at all, other than to document that my friend was leaving by her own choice. That seemed a bit shocking, because if BMH had truly believed that their proposed treatment was necessary and appropriate, and if BMH truly cared about the well-being of the patient: Wouldn’t the medical staff had tried to dissuade my friend from leaving? Instead, the response was sort of a shrug and, “whatever.”

      The problems that I witnessed in the BMH Emergency Room, in my view, have nothing whatever to do with the square footage of that department or the equipment.

      Whether the physical set up of the ER is adequate or insufficient; the lack of communication and common sense that I witnessed is a problem of attitude and poor training. Will the new Emergency Room, unveiled this week with great fanfare, magically transform attitude and poor training?

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