Many people in smaller cities, understandably, are happy to have a hospital. They feel safer and more comfortable with the idea that they can get medical care nearby if they really need it.
The problem is, however, that many smaller hospitals do not treat sufficient numbers of patients to become truly proficient in their care. Like anything else, good medical care takes practice. Doctors, nurses, and staff improve when they do higher volumes of surgeries, procedures, or other care. Moreover, larger hospitals with larger volumes can assign nurses to specialize in caring for certain types of patients, which also improves their knowledge base and patient care. Unfortunately, doctors and nurses at smaller hospitals frequently do not do the volumes of surgeries and other care to obtain the proficiency that higher volume, larger city hospitals obtain. This can lead to more infections, complications from surgery, and mistakes.
Also, many times smaller hospitals lack sufficiently trained physicians to handle emergencies. Consequently, the patient must be transferred to a larger hospital. The problem with this approach is that very dangerous delays can occur while the smaller hospital determines that the patient needs a higher level of care. These delays may be the result of medical malpractice and can cost lives.
Some of these issues may contribute to Sierra Vista's Canyon Vista Medical Center's rating of a “D” by Leapfrog's Hospital Safety Guide. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade uses national performance measures from the Medicare, its own survey, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Hospital Association's Annual Survey and Health Information Technology Supplement. After weighing this information, it evaluated that Canyon Vista Medical Center warranted a “D,” as it had higher than average problems with surgical site infections after colon surgeries, deaths from treatable complications, collapsed lungs, clots, medication errors, patient falls, physician training, and intra staff communications.
Patients should be aware that all hospitals are not the same. If you are having a surgery or are concerned you are suffering from a serious condition, you may want to seek care at a larger hospital that has more experience, training, and resources.