You go to the hospital to get well. But far too many people die after something goes wrong. Patients get the wrong drugs, fail to get needed tests or treatments or develop infections that could have been prevented.
John James has dedicated himself to improving hospital safety. His teenage son died after what James says was a series of hospital errors. The Journal of Patient Safety published James’ analysis, which estimates 440,000 people a year die after suffering medical errors in hospitals. James says that makes it the third biggest cause of death after heart disease and cancer.
Consumer Reports has also studied hospital safety and has rated more than 2,500 hospitals on how safe they are. For its mortality ratings, Consumer Reports uses the most recent data available from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Consumer Reports Mortality Ratings are based on how likely patients are to die within 30 days of being admitted for a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia. And they consider how often surgery patients with serious treatable complications die in the hospital.
Although this data is from people 65 and older, Consumer Reports says that it’s a good indication of a hospital’s attention to safety. And it shows that the chance of dying is much higher in some hospitals than others.
Consumer Reports hopes that by putting a spotlight on safety, hospitals will do a better job preventing hospital errors.
In the DFW Area Baylor Medical Center at Waxahachie ranked at the top of the Consumer Reports ratings, followed by Baylor All Saints Medical Center at Fort Worth and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Allen. At the bottom of the list was Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Kaufman.
NBC 5 reached out to Texas Health Resources for reaction to Consumer Reports, this was its statement:
Texas Health Resources fully supports transparency in patient safety and quality reporting. We welcome the opportunity to view our performance from many different perspectives, including Consumer Reports.
We support efforts to inform patients and other purchasers of health care services. In fact, our Board of Trustees recently approved creating a public patient safety and quality dashboard for all Texas Health Resources hospitals, and we plan to publish this in the near future. The dashboard will be based on a variety of indicators, mostly clinical data, and it will be the most currently available data.
We have not had a chance to review the Consumer Reports data in detail. There are many hospital performance reports available, and some of the Consumer Reports information looks similar to other published reports. There are some differences in the various reports so we encourage people to look at a variety of information sources.
Texas Health Resources strongly believes in the use of nationally endorsed consensus indicators as the core of quality and patient safety reporting. These indicators have been developed by national specialty organizations based on the best current medical evidence, have gone through a rigorous consensus process, and have transparent and easily understandable indicator specifications. While there may be value in the development of proprietary indices, we believe they provide a less transparent and comparable view of performance.
We continue the hard work of continually improving our care and performance. We welcome data and feedback which assist us in this work, and in improving the health of the people in the communities we serve.
Consumer Reports has more advice on how to find a good hospital and says your best defense against hospital errors is being an informed patient and having a friend or family member with you as much as possible.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.