Many hospitals gather information on how patients fare after surgery, but that information is not usually available to the public. So it is hard to compare hospitals when you’re scheduling surgery. Consumer Reports just rated almost 2,500 hospitals for common surgical procedures, using a source of information that is available -- hospital billing data.
Researchers analyzed three years of Medicare billing records with the help of the health care consulting firm MPA. The analysis covered 27 kinds of common surgeries, including hip and knee replacements, back surgery, and surgery to clear blocked arteries.
Consumer Reports rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications.
Baylor All Saints Medical Center in Fort Worth, North Central Surgical Center in Dallas, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas were rated among the better hospitals in North Texas. Most hospitals in the DFW area ranked in the middle. Baylor Medical Center at Carrollton and Methodist Dallas Medical Center ranked among the worst.
A spokesperson for Methodist Health System told NBC 5:
“Methodist Health System supports consumer health care knowledge and choice. As part of our commitment to transparency, we voluntarily provide data to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Texas Health Care Information Council within the Texas Department of State Health Services, Joint Commission, the Leapfrog Group’s Patient Safety Survey, and others. Methodist also posts the most up-to-date Hospital Quality Alliance outcome data for core measures on its Web site: www.methodisthealthsystem.org/quality.
Any single report is only one of the many sources consumers can use to choose a hospital. Consumers also gain valuable insight from talking with their physicians, nurses, friends and family, or reviewing other quality data, such as that from CDC, HealthGrades, National Quality Forum, and others. To see the most current quality scores, we invite you to visit www.medicarecompare.gov/hospitalcompare.”
Baylor Health Care System told NBC 5:
“Baylor strongly supports efforts by Consumer Reports and others to provide information to the public to help them make informed choices about their hospital care. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires hospitals to submit performance data related to 10 evidence-based practices that keep surgical patients safe. Baylor’s rate for these 10 goals has an average above 99% which is high compared to other health systems in the U.S. So we are not surprised that several of our facilities performed well by Consumer Reports’ new measurement system.
It is important to note though that all data has some limitations. The method used by Consumer Reports evaluates data from years ago and the method itself has not been evaluated in medical literature. As such, many well-respected hospitals have received low ratings by Consumer Reports potentially because these hospitals care for the most seriously ill patients in their region.”
Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.
Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser, says, “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.”
Consumer Reports says if you think you’ve been harmed in the hospital, contact your local or state health department. If you’re on Medicare, get in touch with your state’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.