Rating safety of local hospitals

July 5, 2012 5:17:40 PM PDT
A new report is shining the spotlight on hospitals and which ones are considered the safest.

Obviously when you go into the hospital, you expect to get better or at the very least, not any worse.

But that is not always what happens.

So Consumer Reports looked at what goes wrong at even some of the best hospitals.

Patrick Roth suffered several complications following surgery on his back, including a potentially deadly bacterial infection.

"I have memory of being in the hospital bed and in such pain that I was screaming not to die," Roth said.

Many surgical-site infections like the one Patrick had can be prevented, according to Consumer Reports. But about one in 20 hospitalized patients develops an infection and that's only one of the concerns with hospital care.

A 2010 government report finds mistakes and other medical harm contribute to an estimated 15,000 deaths each month ? and that's just among Medicare patients.

"And this figure is conservative. Many of the medical mistakes that occur in hospitals are not reported, so we only know about a fraction of the errors that occur," Dr. John Santa said.

So how safe is your hospital?

Consumer Reports analyzed data from more than a thousand hospitals in 44 states and gave each hospital a safety rating in several categories, including:

  • Avoiding infections
  • Readmissions after discharge
  • Clear communication about drugs and discharge, and
  • The overuse of Cat scans

    The ratings show that even the best hospitals have room for improvement.

    "No hospital got a top score for preventing patients from being readmitted, or for communicating with patients about discharge instructions and new medications," Dr. Santa said.

    Consumer Reports says hospitals are not required to make their safety information available to the public so many do not. Therefore, although the report is extensive, it doesn't cover all of the hospitals.

    But there are several in our area included in the report:

    View this slideshow of how local hospitals fared

    Additional information: A hospital would receive a score of 100 if it had earned the highest possible score in all the categories we included, and would receive a 1 if it had earned the lowest possible scores for all categories.

    Only hospitals that have data for all 6 categories were included. Many hospitals are excluded because they are missing data on one or more categories. Reasons for this include:

    a. They don't have enough data, have data that's too old, have data discrepancies, or don't report data in ways we can use.

    b. Children's and Veterans Affairs hospitals are exempt from reporting certain data types.

    c. Some specialty hospitals do not treat patients with conditions used in our readmissions ratings.