On the Cal Hospital Compare website, conscientious consumers in California can look up scorecards for their local hospitals. How well does the hospital control infections? How often do patients die from complications that can be treated? How satisfied are most patients with their experience? Most major hospitals in California give the data voluntarily to independent researchers who analyze and publish consumer-friendly reports. The project was considered a pioneering effort when it started in 2004, but Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, says the report cards have outlived their usefulness.