Penrose-St. Francis Health Services was named one of the 50 top hospitals by HealthGrades, a Boulder-based independent health care ratings organization. HealthGrades analyzes patient outcomes at all 5,000 of the nation’s nonfederal hospitals, using data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

This marks the third year in a row the hospital has received the award, and it is the only hospital in the state to earn the top 50 designation.

Quality of care varies vastly when comparing patient outcomes in the top hospitals against the rest of the institutions.

Patients admitted to the top 50 hospitals are 27 percent less likely to die and 8 percent less likely to suffer from a major complication, when compared to patients at other hospitals. If all hospitals operated at the same level as the 50 best, more than 164,000 deaths and 18,900 in-hospital complications could have been prevented.

For Penrose CEO Margaret Sabin, the award is just the beginning.

“Looking to the future, our goal is to move beyond providing the best possible ‘illness care’ to providing ‘wellness care,’ thereby potentially reducing health care costs by helping our community to maintain good health,” she said.

To determine HealthGrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals, the company analyzed more than 130 million Medicare hospitalization records from every hospital in the nation. Hospitals must meet minimum thresholds for patient volumes, quality ratings and the range of services provided.

Specifically, hospitals were evaluated based on the risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates across 26 procedures and treatments, from hip replacement to bypass surgery. Hospitals that were in the top 5 percent of all hospitals for the most consecutive years were named HealthGrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals.

In addition, Penrose-St. Francis is ranked No. 1 in Colorado for overall critical care services in 2010 and among the top 5 percent in the nation for pulmonary, gastrointestinal medical treatment and critical care.

The rankings are free, but Penrose pays to use the information in advertising and has a consulting contract with HealthGrades.