On Wednesday, Consumer Reports magazine released the ratings of over 2,400 hospitals in all of the 50 states, and found that famous hospitals didn’t always come out on top when it came to rankings. They were based on the surgical care that people received, and were rated using two separate measures: the number of Medicare patients that died in a hospital during or after a surgery and the number of people that were in the hospital longer than anticipated based on the standards of care for the condition for which they were being treated. The medical director of Consumer Reports Health, Dr. John Santa has said that both of these factors are indicators of overall care quality and complications.
The ratings were shocking to many, especially because many of the most famous and well known hospitals earned ratings that were only so-so. For instance, some of the Mayo Clinic hospitals in Minnesota, The Cleveland Clinic, as well as Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins Hospital fared no better than a mid-mark between the CU scale’s “better” and “worse” ranking. This ranking is actually worse than many of the smaller hospitals. Since CU only had limited access to much of the data, rankings also highlight the trouble that many patients have getting the objective information they need to help determine the quality of care at any given hospital.
Paul Levy, former president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, has said that the study is helping people to make more educated decisions and helping them to get better care. It is helping patients to become partners in encouraging the healthcare industry to make the improvements necessary to become better. He was not involved in the study.
The ratings are based off claims to Medicare and clinical records information between 2009 and 2011. They cover 86 different types of surgeries, including hip and knee replacement, angioplasty and back operations. The rankings have been adjusted to consider the fact that some hospitals choose to treat sicker and older patients, and they do not include information about patients that have been transferred from another hospital as these are often tough cases that the receiving hospital should not have counted against them.
The ratings do not specifically include complications that include heart attacks, infections, strokes or other post surgery complications, Santa has said that the length of stay information covers these problems.
It’s not hard to see why the administrators of some hospitals are taking the time to question the ratings and defend their health care establishments since some of the ratings shed certain hospitals in a negative light.
According to Santa, the amount of data that the average patient is not allowed to see can be tremendously upsetting, which is one of the reasons that Consumer Reports chose to do the rating. The idea was to force hospitals to begin being more transparent about the quality of care that they are providing. Many of Consumer Report’s critics even agree that the goal is a good one.
One insurance group recently released a calculator of the hidden charges that patients wind up paying due to injuries, errors, infections and accidents. It’s an estimated cost of over $7,700 just due to errors alone, and it’s a price that patients are footing the bill for.