By Alvin Tran
Ever used Consumer Reports to check out an appliance or help decide which car to buy? Now you can do the same thing with many hospitals. Consumer Reports, best known for testing consumer products, released its first-ever hospital safety ratings and many of California’s most prestigious hospitals, including several from the Bay Area, were among them.
Consumer Reports judged roughly 1,100 of the country’s 6,300 hospitals in six different categories — from hospital-acquired infections to mortality — and then combined scores for a final overall safety score out of 100 possible points. Perhaps the most surprising news is that the highest scoring hospital, Billings Clinic in Montana, scored only a 72. The lowest scoring in the country was Chicago’s Sacred Heart Hospital, with a meager 16. The reason so few hospitals were ranked overall is because many hospitals simply do not consistently track safety data.
Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, sounded a note of frustration on the difficulty of acquiring complete data. “It’s just time for hospitals to accept this is a high priority,” he told me in an interview. “They need to make it so. They need to share what’s going on with the public. And we all need to hold them accountable.”