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Federal Report: Wisconsin’s Overall Health Care Quality Remains High Despite Dip In Ranking

Wisconsin Needs To Work On Reducing Opioid Overdoses And Get More People Vaccinated Against Flu

David Goldman/AP Photo

The quality of health care in Wisconsin has slipped a few notches, but the state still does well compared to other states when it comes to medical services provided in hospitals, nursing homes and doctor’s offices, according to a federal analysis.

Wisconsin overall ranked fourth in a report released Monday by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Maine ranked first. In last year’s report, Wisconsin ranked first in overall health care quality but was faulted for falls in nursing homes and how many children go to the hospital because of asthma.

Wisconsin Medical Society CEO Dr. Bud Chumbley said he’s please to see the state remains in the top five.

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“We’re always in the top five. We kind of go between one, two, three, four over the last few years. So I was encouraged we’re still in the top five. There may be some areas (the report) points out that we should spend some time to analyze,” Chumbley said.

Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding said partnerships among providers, administrators, patients and families has led to high-quality care in Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin is a national leader and is known for its high-quality, high-value health care. These rankings reflect not only outstanding performance today, but more importantly, a trend spanning over a decade demonstrating a sustained commitment to affordable, accessible, quality health care that our members deliver each and every day,” Borgerding said in an email statement.

Still, one area Wisconsin needs to improve is getting more people vaccinated against seasonal influenza, the report said. Last year, thousands went to the hospital with complications from the flu. In the 2017-18 flu season, 7,530 people were hospitalized. That’s twice as many as the previous year.

“That was a nationwide trend. There were records broken in almost every state, including Wisconsin,” said state Influenza Surveillance Coordinator Thomas Haupt.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services publishes immunization rates by age and county. In Wisconsin, only 36 percent of state residents got flu shots last year, short of the 70 percent goal set in Healthy People 2020, a national public health campaign.

After last year’s bad flu season, state health officials are reminding people to get vaccinated. A Monday release states health care providers and pharmacies are already providing shots.

In the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report, Wisconsin also got poor marks for having a high rate of emergency department visits and hospitalizations for opioid-related conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suspected opioid overdoses doubled in the course of a year.

Wisconsin has passed a number of laws designed to curb the use of opioids. One requires doctors and pharmacist to check a database before writing or filling a prescription to prevent abuse.

“The data shows that prescribing opioids has dropped significantly in the state, as it has nationally. So that is something we’ve been very active in,” Chumbley said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:35 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 to include a statement from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.