How Good is Your Hospital? Find Out

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Residents of Maryland and Nevada might want to consider crossing the state line the next time they head to the hospital.

The two states’ hospitals earned the lowest average ratings in the country — 2.4 stars — from the federal government’s new Hospital Compare system, which rates hospitals on a five-star system.

The system was created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, or CMS, which also collaborated with organizations that represent consumers, hospitals, doctors, employers, hospital accrediting organizations and other federal agencies, according to the Hospital Compare website.

Hospital Compare provides quality-of-care information for Medicare-certified hospitals, which is intended to help consumers decide where to get health care and to encourage hospitals to improve their quality of care, the website states.

An analysis by Kaiser Health News found that only 251 hospitals of the more 4,000 hospitals in the Hospital Compare system have a five-star rating:

Many are small specialty hospitals that focus on lucrative elective operations such as spine, heart or knee surgeries. They have traditionally received more positive patient reviews than have general hospitals, where a diversity of sicknesses and chaotic emergency rooms make it more likely patients will have a bad experience.

A few five-star hospitals are part of well-respected systems, such as the Mayo Clinic’s hospitals.

The most common ratings are three stars, which 40 percent of rated hospitals received; and four stars, which 34 percent of hospitals received, according to Kaiser Health News. Only 251 hospitals (7 percent) received five stars.

The ratings are based on patient appraisals, which is part of why some hospital officials are critical of the system.

The American Hospital Association’s senior associate director of policy, Akin Demehin, says in a statement:

While star ratings could be an effective way to make quality information easier to understand, the devil is in the details. There’s a risk of oversimplifying the complexity of quality care or misinterpreting what is important to a particular patient, especially since patients seek care for many different reasons.

What’s your take on Hospital Compare? Would you use it? Let us know if a comment below or on our Facebook page. And share this story with friends who are searching for the best hospital.

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