Consumer Reports has released its first U.S. hospital ratings that are based on patients perioperative experiences.
The ratings include an overall surgery rating, which combines results for 27 categories of scheduled surgeries, and individual ratings for five specific procedure types: back surgery, hip replacement, knee replacement, angioplasty and carotid artery surgery.
Consumers have little to go on when selecting a hospital because which hospitals are doing the best job at keeping patients safe during surgery is unclear, according to a Consumer Reports news release: “Although hospitals are required to report to government agencies and some submit data to national registries to see how they stack up against one another, vital safety information remains largely hidden from consumers.”
The ratings are based on an analysis of billing claims that hospitals submitted to Medicare for patients 65 and older, from 2009 through 2011, and cover 2,463 hospitals in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.
The ratings are based on the percentage of a hospitals Medicare patients who died in the hospital or stayed longer than expected for their procedure. Research shows that mortality and length of stay correlate with complications, and some hospitals use this approach to monitor quality, according to the release. To develop the ratings, Consumer Reports worked with MPA, a healthcare consulting firm with expertise in analyzing billing claims and clinical records data and in helping hospitals use the information to improve patient safety.
“We wish we had access to more comprehensive, standardized information, but this is the best that is available,” John Santa, MD, MPH, medical director of Consumer Reports Health, said in the news release. “We know the ratings arent a perfect measurement but we think theyre an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice. And we hope that by highlighting performance differences, we can motivate hospitals to improve.”
The ratings, available in the September issue of Consumer Reports, evaluate hospitals and not individual surgeons or surgical teams.
Among the findings:
• The ratings reflect wide variation, sometimes between hospitals only a few miles apart.
• Teaching hospitals on average performed no better than other hospitals, although some standouts earned a high rating.
• Urban hospitals such as Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City and University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland did well despite often serving poorer, sicker patients. Rural hospitals on average did better than other hospitals.
• Ratings varied more significantly for several surgeries, including hip and knee replacements and back surgery, than for others, such as colon surgery and hysterectomy.
Read more about the ratings: www.ConsumerReports.org/cro/hospitalratings0913