Results from Consumer Reports‘ first ever hospital safety analysis are somewhat alarming, with the top ranked hospital in the nation – Billings Clinic in Montana – scoring just 72 points out of 100.

The organization ranked more than 1,100 hospitals in 44 states on a scale of one to 100 points, with a higher score indicating better performance. The ratings were based on outcomes in six key categories: infection rates, readmissions, communication policies, duplicate CT scan rates, complications and mortality.

Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago fared the worst, earning a mere 16 points out of 100, and reporting rates of bloodstream infections higher than twice the national average.


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Scores at well-known hospitals were also far from impressive, according to Consumer Reports. Scores for several high-profile hospitals are as follows:

  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston – 45
  • Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles – 43
  • Cleveland Clinic – 39
  • New York Presbyterian – 32
  • Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York City – 30

Other study findings show that nearly half of hospitals in the analysis lacked clear communication policies, specifically regarding information about medications and discharge plans, and that the majority performed unnecessary CT scans, a practice that increases radiation exposure and cancer risk. Only 28% of hospitals included in the analysis had duplicate CT-scan rates of 5% or less, data indicates.

The researchers acknowledged several limitations, including inconsistent, incomplete and sometimes voluntary reporting practices on patient harm data nationwide. Because of this, ratings reported included only 18% of the country’s hospitals. Information for each category was not available for all hospitals.

Developing a national system to track and publicly report medical errors, and a standardized system for patients most affected by medical harm to communicate with hospital administrators and regulators were among tactics suggested to improve hospital safety.

References:

  1. “How safe is your hospital?” ConsumerReports.org. Web. August 2012.