NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Don't Put Too Much Stock in the Government's Hospital Compare Website, Researchers Say

October 20, 2010

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare website would like to make your life a little easier by helping you choose a hospital with a good safety record.  But don't put too much stock in the Hospital Compare ratings.  According to a study published in the Archives of Surgery, patients who went under the knife in the lowest-scoring hospitals did just as well as patients who were treated in the best hospitals, says the Los Angeles Times.

  • In coming to this conclusion, the researchers examined data on nearly 230,000 Medicare patients who had one of six surgical procedures in 2,038 hospitals in 2005 or 2006.
  • They ranked those hospitals according to their compliance with various safety measures and then compared the experiences of patients treated in the best hospitals with those treated in the worst.
  • It turned out that patients were just as likely to die within 30 days of their surgeries in the "safe" hospitals as in the "unsafe" ones, with the exception of patients who had an aortic valve replacement in hospitals that had the best compliance with the safety measures.
  • Overall, degree of compliance accounted for only 3.3 percent of the variation in mortality rates observed at different hospitals.

What's more, patients experienced fewer complications in hospitals that did the worst job complying with the safety measures and more complications in hospitals with the best compliance records.

Source: Karen Kaplan, "Don't Put Too Much Stock in the Government's Hospital Compare Website, Researchers Say," Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2010.

For Archives of Surgery study:

Study: http://archsurg.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/short/145/10/999

 

Browse more articles on Health Issues