Hospital Ratings

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Hospital Ratings Are In The Eye Of The Beholder

By Jordan Rau, Kaiser Health News

(Courtesy: Kaiser Health News)

(Courtesy: Kaiser Health News)

How good a hospital is St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital in Michigan? It depends on whom you ask.

The Leapfrog Group, a respected nonprofit that promotes patient safety, gave an “A” to the hospital. The company Healthgrades named it one of America’s best 50 hospitals.

But the Joint Commission, a nonprofit organization that accredits hospitals, and U.S. News and World Report omitted St. Mary from their best hospital lists. Consumer Reports gave it an average safety score of 47 points out of 100, citing high numbers of readmissions, poor communication with patients and excessive use of scans. Medicare, which has a new program rewarding hospitals for meeting certain quality measures, is reducing St. Mary’s payments by a fraction this year.

Is your head spinning yet?

As ratings multiply, more and more hospitals have something they can brag about. A third of U.S. hospitals won at least one distinction from a major rating group or company.

Evaluations of hospitals are proliferating, giving patients unprecedented insight into institutions where variations in quality can determine whether they live or die. Many have similar names, such as “Best Hospitals Honor Roll,” “America’s Best Hospitals” and “100 Top Hospitals.” Some states have created their own report cards. In California there are more than a dozen organizations offering assessments on hospital quality.

But those ratings, each using its own methodology, often come to wildly divergent conclusions, sometimes providing as much confusion as clarity for consumers. Continue reading