Consumer Reports rates hospitals in new score system to help patients

Every year, surgical errors happen unnecessarily to countless patients in hospitals all across the country. Operations on the wrong body part, or infections post-surgery are among two of many on the list of "adverse events" that happen to patients. Healthcare entities report these mishaps, but many of these instances are not revealed to patients.

As a result, consumers are left in the dark about the medical errors that occur at their local hospitals and therefore have little to no information to go by when selecting the healthcare entity that will ultimately provide their care.

According to the Director of Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project (a project that aims to heighten public awareness about hospital safety), patients "might as well throw a scalpel at a dartboard."

However, thanks to a new platform called "Our Ratings" provided by Consumer Reports, a consumer protection organization, patients will now have access to information and adverse incidences that occur at various hospitals.

The new system

The "Our Ratings" system, as it's known, is essentially a system that scores hospitals based on their performance on, for instance, infection and readmission rates after surgery. The ratings are derived from information provided by billing claims submitted to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid services.

Patients can locate a hospital in a particular state, and find the rating and other pertinent information from that entity in making their decision.

The "Our Ratings" system contains over 4,000 total hospital ratings.

Criticism

Some criticize the system and point out the one-dimensional aspect of the platform. Some argue that there are many aspects to hospital quality that simply aren't utilized in the rating system.

However, perfect or not, the platform is a step in the right direction. It allows patients to make a more "informed decision" about the hospital they ultimately choose because they will have more access to a hospital's safety performance records. Further, the additional transparency provides motivation for hospitals in enhance their safety standards and decrease medical errors and complications.

John Sanada, M.D. and Medical Director of Consumer Reports Health says, "We hope that by highlighting performance differences, we can motivate hospitals to improve."

How to access the system

Consumers can access the Our Ratings system to find the score of a particular hospital in their area. Additional information about the rating system and answers to common questions can also be found.