Many hospitals gather information on how patients fare after surgery, but it's not typically available to the public. That can make it hard to compare hospitals when you're scheduling surgery. Consumer Reports just rated nearly 2,500 hospitals for common surgical procedures, like hip or knee replacement, using a source of information that is available - hospital-billing data.
If you're scheduling a surgery, Consumer Reports says the hospital you choose can make a big difference. After analyzing three years of Medicare billing records from the nearly 2,500 hospitals with the help of the health care consulting firm M-P-A. The analysis covered 27 kinds of common surgeries, including hip and knee replacement, back surgery, and surgery to clear blocked arteries.
Dr. John Santa with Consumer Reports said, "We rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications."
Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California, is one of the highest-rated hospitals. Administrators say its attention to detail has led to dramatic improvements in recent years.
Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.
"We know the ratings aren't a perfect measurement, but we think they're an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice," said Dr. Santa.
If you think you've been harmed in the hospital, Consumer Reports advises, contacting your local or state health department. If you're on Medicare, get in touch with your state's Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. More information on Consumer Reports' surgery ratings is available at www.consumerreports.org/cro/hospitalratings0913
, however you must be a paid subscriber to access local ratings for individual hospitals.