For the second time in five years, Berkshire Medical Center has received the Distinguished Hospital Award for Clinical Excellence from Healthgrades -- a rating that means the hospital is in the top 5 percent for patient care among more than 4,500 hospitals nationwide.

For the 2013 award, Healthgrades evaluated the hospital's clinical performance records from 2009 through 2011 and determined BMC is in the upper echelon of hospitals, with a 30.9 percent lower risk in mortality rates across 18 common conditions and procedures for which patients are admitted to the hospital. Healthgrades, a leading provider of comprehensive information about physicians and hospitals, also recognized BMC with the award in 2009.

"For BMC, these recognitions represent years of commitment to excellence on the part of our physicians, clinicians and staff. For patients we serve, these recognitions represent objective confirmation that we are continuing to offer exceptional quality and they can feel confident that they are receiving the highest quality care, close to home." - David E. Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems, BMC's parent company.

"Berkshire Medical Center is one of 262 hospitals named this year that stand out above the rest for their overall clinical care across a broad spectrum of care," said Evan Marks, an executive vice president with Healthgrades. "While many hospitals have specific areas of expertise and high-quality outcomes in certain areas, these hospitals exhibit comprehensive, high-quality care across multiple clinical specialties."

Berkshire Health Systems' chief quality officer, Dr. Gray Ellrodt, said that the recognition was a validation of a process that started in 2000 to improve "average services" and go "above and beyond." With the recognition, Ellrodt said patients can feel confident they'll be well-treated when it comes to their care at BMC.

BMC executives said the hospital's commitment starts at the patient-level, and procedural changes are implemented whenever there's room for improvement. The hospital also points to its success in ensuring staff receives training and pursues advanced degrees in their medical field. The hospital also actively engages in community outreach, executives said.

"National honors like these are important, but not just for awards," said David E. Phelps, president and CEO of Berkshire Health Systems, BMC's parent company. "For BMC, these recognitions represent years of commitment to excellence on the part of our physicians, clinicians and staff. For patients we serve, these recognitions represent objective confirmation that we are continuing to offer exceptional quality and they can feel confident that they are receiving the highest quality care, close to home."

"We're fortunate to be part of a health system that places quality and patient safety at the forefront of every decision and is willing to make the investments to ensure support for staff and the best outcomes for patients," said Diane P. Kelly, an RN and BMC's chief operating officer. "Our success comes from everyone working together and committed to doing the right thing for every patient, every time."

BMC received marks of "better than expected," Healthgrades' highest patient-outcome rating, for heart attack, heart failure, sepsis, stroke and pneumonia, among others. Elsewhere, the hospital achieved "as expected" ratings in appendectomy, pulmonary embolism, and diabetic acidosis and coma, among others.

"We're fortunate to be part of a health system that places quality and patient safety at the forefront of every decision and is willing to make the investments to ensure support for staff and the best outcomes for patients." - Diane P. Kelly, an RN and BMC's chief operating officer.

In the Healthgrades report, BMC scored well in a number of patient safety indicators in a three-tier range from worse than average to average to better than average. It ranked better than average in keeping patients from acquiring pressure, or bed, sores. The hospital also was rated highly for proper follow-through after surgery.

BMC received a below-average rating for instances of collapsed lung and preventing abdominal incision sites. Ellrodt said there have been no deaths in the last several years associated with a collapsed lungs, and the hospital has a new comprehensive training program and ultra-sound guidance system being used to guide invasive procedures that risk collapsing a lung. There is also new technology being incorporated to prevent incision tears.

Looking forward into the future, Kelly and Ellrodt said that BMC would be developing a palliative care program. There will also be an emphasis on decreasing the number of people who return as patients within 30 days of discharge and increasing diabetes outreach in the community.

The staff at BMC was notified on Tuesday of the Distinguished Hospital Award, and the hospital planned a celebration for Thursday.

Nine Massachusetts hospitals are recognized this year, which puts the state among the upper echelon of state-recognized hospitals. For more information and to see rankings of other hospitals, visit www.healthgrades.com.