Several Bay Area hospitals were named top performers Wednesday by the nation's leading accrediting agency.
The Joint Commission analyzed whether 3,300 institutions nationwide met specific quality measures at least 95 percent of the time in 2011.
The practices have been shown to improve outcomes for patients, including giving antibiotics one hour before surgery, giving aspirin to heart attack patients when they arrive and doing blood tests in the emergency room for patients thought to have pneumonia.
All told, 620 hospitals, or 18 percent of those submitting data, qualified as top performers. That is a 50 percent increase from the 406 institutions named last year, the first time the Joint Commission issued such a list.
"We raised the bar this year by adding 20 new accountability measures to the program," said Dr. Mark Chassin, Joint Commission president. "We continue to see improvement."
Hospitals in the East and South Bay that were lauded in four categories -- heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia and surgical care -- included Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, Regional Medical Center of San Jose and Kaiser Foundation hospitals in Hayward/Fremont, San Jose and Walnut Creek.
"We understand that what matters most to patients at Regional Medical Center of San Jose is safe, effective care," said Chief Executive Officer Mike Johnson, in a statement.
"Regional is proud to be named to the list of the Joint Commission's top performers on key quality measures," he said.
Hospitals recognized in three categories -- heart attack, pneumonia and surgical care -- included Kaiser Foundation hospitals in Redwood City and Vacaville.
Sutter Tracy Community Hospital was lauded for pneumonia and surgical care, and Sutter Maternity and Surgery Center of Santa Cruz received honors for surgical care.
Two of the region's pediatric hospitals -- Children's Hospital Oakland and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford -- were recognized for asthma care.
In the asthma category, hospitals were judged on whether they delivered appropriate relief and gave patients a home management plan.
Many of the nation's most prestigious teaching hospitals failed to make the list. Chassin said this may be because these are typically large institutions, often handle complex cases, and it may be difficult for them to achieve the consistency needed to meet the quality measures at least 95 percent of the time. But Chassin said he hopes many of these institutions will make the list in future years.
The Joint Commission report is part of a national trend to shed more light on the quality of care at hospitals and to encourage improvements.
The commission's goal is to have increasing numbers of institutions meet the benchmarks and make the top performer list.
"No one is ready to say that the hard work is finished," Chassin said.
Sandy Kleffman covers health. Contact her at 510-293-2478. Follow her at Twitter.com/skleffman.