New Quality Ratings Roil hospitals, Give Consumers Help


The following article was published by By Dan Mangan

Your local hospital’s new “star” score might surprise you.

New overall quality ratings that assign individual hospitals one to five stars based on how well they care for patients were released Wednesday by the federal government, giving consumers a new tool for making health-care choices for themselves and loved ones.

A number of prestigious hospitals did not score as high on the new ratings as their reputations, and own websites and marketing materials, might otherwise suggest.

The star ratings, released for more than 3,500 hospitals, came after a three-month delay due to industry concerns, and are based on more than 64 quality measurements that were already being reported for individual hospitals on the website Hospital Compare. That site is operated by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“The rating includes quality measures for routine care that the average individual receives, such as care received when being treated for heart attacks and pneumonia, to quality measures that focus on hospital-acquired infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections,” wrote Dr. Kate Goodrich, director of CMS’ Center for Clinical Standards and Quality, in a blog post announcing the release of the ratings.

“Specialized and cutting-edge care that certain hospitals provide such as specialized cancer care, are not reflected in these quality ratings,” Goodrich wrote.

Before Wednesday, consumers had no overall, unified rating based on the quality measurements to guide them in deciding which hospital to choose. That was despite the fact that CMS had already been issuing overall star ratings for home health agencies, nursing homes and dialysis facilities.

Nearly all of the hospitals that scored at the top of U.S. News & World Report’s oft-touted “Best Hospital” rankings failed to obtain a top five-star overall quality rating from Hospital Compare.

Among them was Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the top-ranked hospital in the nation by U.S. News — as prominently noted on the hospital’s own website — which only received four stars overall from Hospital Compare (Brigham and Women’s only received 3Stars).

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In summary, Federal health regulators say only 2-percent of the nation’s hospitals received the highest-quality rating.  Click here if you would like to search MA Hospitals.

The only hospital in MA to receive a 5 Star rating was New England Baptist Hospital (think orthopedics).