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New HealthGrades Report Rates 5,000 US Hospitals


If you needed heart surgery or a knee replacement, or if you had a stroke, do you know which hospitals could provide the best care? HealthGrades has just released The Twelfth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, which rates US hospitals on procedures and diagnoses, mortality and complication rates, and lets consumers see the ratings for 5,000 hospitals online.

With a click of a mouse, consumers can access information about how hospitals in their area and around the country rate on 28 different procedures and diagnoses, including but not limited to appendectomy, total hip replacement, stroke, pneumonia, bowel obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart failure, heart attack, and pancreatitis. The study’s authors gathered and examined information from nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2006 through 2008.

Hospitals were rated with one, three, or five stars: one indicates poor performance; three is performance as expected; and five is performance better than predicted. Overall, the investigators found that 70 to 80 percent of hospitals in each procedure/diagnosis were given three stars, 10 to 15 percent were rated with one star, and 10 to 15 were rated with five stars.

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Among the study’s findings, patients have an approximately 71 percent lower chance of dying in a five-star rated hospital compared to a one-star rated hospital. More generally, patients who check into a highly rated hospital have a 52 percent lower chance of dying compared with the US hospital average.

The study also found that more than half (57 percent) of potentially preventable deaths are associated with four diagnoses: sepsis, pneumonia, heart failure, and respiratory failure. When it comes to complications associated with orthopedic procedures, there was approximately a 79 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more inhospital complications in a five-star rated hospital compared to a one-star rated hospital.

When hospitals were evaluated for stroke outcomes, facilities that have been certified as a Center of Excellence in Stroke Care by The Joint Commission had better outcomes compared with hospitals without the certification. Hospitals with stroke certification are nearly twice as likely to have a five-star rating in stroke than one-star rated hospitals. If you are looking for the best performing hospitals, head to the East North Central states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. The study provides a wealth of information on performance in every region of the country in many categories.

None of the hospitals in the study have the choice to opt-in or opt-out of the evaluation, and no hospital pays to be rated. All of the mortality and complication rates are adjusted according to risk, which takes into account different degrees of severity of patient illness at different hospitals and ensures all hospitals are evaluated on an equal basis. Access to the full HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study (PDF) is available online. Consumers can also find individual quality ratings for individual hospitals, doctors, and nursing homes in their region and around the country on the HealthGrades website.

HealthGrades report