consumer reports compiles new rankings system of us hospitals

From colleges and cars to computers and cameras, it often seems as if you can’t log onto the internet these days without encountering some sort of seemingly random ranking system. In general, it’s relatively easy to dismiss the majority of these rankings as either biased and/or inherently flawed.

However, every once in awhile a ranking system comes out that is actually very reliable, very accurate and very telling. In fact, Consumer Reports recently released its first-ever rankings of the best and worst medical facilities in the United States and the results are noteworthy.

The organization decided to conduct the rankings following the release of a shocking report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services back in 2010 indicating that surgical errors, infections and other forms of medical malpractice were likely factors in the deaths of roughly 180,000 Medicare patients and thousands of non-Medicare patients every year.

Consumer Reports underwent a rather comprehensive process in compiling its inaugural hospital rankings, including gathering information on over 1,100 U.S. hospitals in 44 states, interviewing patients and medical professionals, reviewing medical data and examining proper hospital protocol/procedures.

Special emphasis was also placed on six factors:

  1. Communication systems related to safety issues
  2. Infections
  3. Radiation exposure in imaging tests
  4. Return rate subsequent to discharge
  5. Fatality rates for certain conditions
  6. Common complications

In the end, the hospitals included in the rankings were assigned a score out of 100. The lowest score went to Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago, which earned a mere 16 out of 100. Conversely, the highest score went to Billings Clinic in Montana, which earned 72 out of 100.

Surprisingly, such renowned medical facilities as Massachusetts General Hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center and Mount Sinai Medical Center all earned “less-than-outstanding scores.”

“A challenge is these are hospitals that have a lot of priorities,” said Dr. John Santa, the director of Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center. “They do teaching. They take care of tough patients. Our concern is, even for them, safety needs to be the top or near the top priority.”

It is worth noting that no Pennsylvania hospital was in either in the top ten or the bottom ten.

Source: Red Orbit, “Hospital Safety Ratings Released By Consumer Reports,” July 8, 2012

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