Hospital Report Cards: Too Good to Be True?

March 22, 2013 | Crandall & Pera Law
Hospital Report Cards: Too Good to Be True?

Almost 750 U.S. hospitals claimed to be the "best" or "top" in at least one specialty in 2011, but how many of these claims can you actually trust?

With hospital evaluation ratings each using its own methodology, and often coming to very different conclusions, these distinctions could be dangerously confusing for consumers who regularly consult online rankings or reviews of medical facilities. While some hospitals could be rated as outstanding by one group, these same facilities could be rated differently year to year or ignored or panned by another group altogether.

Since patient safety rankings are based on how frequently correct procedures or errors occur, hospitals can get good grades even if they have made some egregious errors that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.

For example, the St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital in Michigan was given an "A" by the Leapfrog Group, a respected nonprofit that promotes patient safety, and named of American's best 50 hospitals by Healthgrades. But Consumer Reports gave the same hospital an average safety score of 47 points out of 100, citing high numbers of readmissions, poor communication with patients and excessive use of scans.

"Ratings and ranking programs certainly offer people information they can use to make their hospital selections, but we don't recommend relying on any one of them completely," said Jennifer Kennedy, a spokeswoman for St. Mary Mercy. "None are able to tell the whole story or paint a complete picture of the care that is delivered." Read the full story here:

Hospital report cards can be flawed, confusing, experts say

Hospitals who perform routinely negligent care and do not communicate with patients and their families nonetheless end up at the top of lists of the best hospitals. A great deal of this is dependent over who will pay exorbitant fees to the publications and "organizations" who are responsible for this rating.

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