Consumer Reports has updated its hospital safety guide, which assesses facilities based on various measures of quality, such as readmission and infection rates. The latest report includes assessments of 2,591 U.S. hospitals, nearly 1,000 more hospitals than last year's list.
For the report (subscription to Consumer Reports required), researchers analyzed data on readmissions, overuse of CT scans, hospital-acquired infections (HAIs), coordination and communication of patient care, and 30-day patient mortality rates for patients with pneumonia, heart attack, and heart failure, as well as patients who undergo surgery. According to Consumer Reports, the scores were adjusted so hospitals were not penalized for admitting sicker patients.
Each hospital was graded on a 100-point scale, with 100 being a perfect score. The average score among surveyed facilities was 51, up from 49 in last year's report. The eight highest scoring hospitals in the report were:
1. Miles Memorial Hospital (Damariscotta, Maine);
2. Oaklawn Hospital (Marshall, Mich.);
3. Aurora Medical Center of Oshkosh (Oshkosh, Wis.);
3. Lutheran Hospital (Cleveland, Ohio);
4. Palm Drive Hospital (Sebastapol, Calif.);
4. Marshalltown Medical & Surgical Center (Marshalltown, Iowa);
5. Hillside Hospital (Pulaski, Tenn.); and
5. Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital (Hendersonville, N.C.).
In addition, Consumer Reports released an interactive map that allows users to browse hospital safety scores inside each state.
Hospital choice may be 'life or death'
"The differences between high-scoring hospitals and low-scoring ones can be a matter of life and death," says John Santa, medical director of Consumer Reports Health. For example, pneumonia patients at top-scoring hospitals are 40% less likely to die within 30 days of admission than pneumonia patients at low-scoring hospitals, Santa says.
"Likely because they do a lot of things—some little, some big—well…[including] everything from making sure staff communicates clearly with patients about medications, which can help prevent drug errors, to doing all they can to prevent hospital-acquired infections," Santa says (Consumer Reports , 3/27; Consumer Reports , 3/27 ; Begley, Reuters, 3/27).
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