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Consumer Reports Rates Hospital Safety

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 5, 2012

The magazine rates 1,159 hospitals in 44 states, fewer than half of those covered by the Leapfrog Group, which released its own 26-measure hospital safety score June 5, ranking 2,651 hospitals much like a report card from A, B, C, D or F.  

CR excluded more hospitals, such as specialty and children's hospitals, federal hospitals, hospitals it determined had outdated or insufficient data, contained discrepancies, or which didn't report data in a way that CR could use.

The scores are displayed with what the advocacy group calls its traditional "fractional blob scale," or circles on a grid in which the circle may be partially or completely filled in with red or black, with a column showing each hospital's total numerical score.

And rather than A through F, the CR score has a narrower range, with more than half of the hospitals in the CR rating receiving fewer than 50 points.

For example, while a perfect scoring hospital would get 100 points, the best performing CR hospital, 272-bed Billings Clinic in Billings, MT, received 72 points and the worst performing organization, 119-bed Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago, received 16.

Only 158 hospitals received a score of at least 60.

Hospitals had a tough time scoring well because of two major failings throughout the industry, those in readmissions and communication, CR said.

"Clear communication in the hospital is hard to come by: Almost 500 hospitals earned our lowest scores for communication about new medications and discharge plans and none earned our top score," CR said in a magazine article accompanying the hospital listings.  "That's worrisome because drug errors in hospitals are common and sometimes serious, and poor discharge planning can lead to readmissions."

How CR metrics differ from Leapfrog's
Santa explains that CR wanted a different safety methodology that only used publicly available data and was easier for the public to understand. CR's new score differs from Leapfrog's in three key ways.

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1 comments on "Consumer Reports Rates Hospital Safety"


Leah Binder (7/5/2012 at 2:32 PM)
Consumer Reports did a superb job rating hospitals and we are very excited to see this launch. As Cheryl Clark's thorough article points out, Consumer Reports rated hospitals using different measures than we used to grade hospitals in the Hospital Safety Score. As a result, consumers now have two rich sources of information with different perspectives on hospital safety, and both are useful for anyone faced with a hospital stay. Just as you would consult more than one review before purchasing a book, so should consumers look at these two scores (and other quality data) when choosing a hospital.We have a list of sources of information on our website (www.hospitalsafetyscore.org). We have one point of clarification to this article, however: Just like Consumer Reports, Leapfrog used only publicly available data to calculate our score. We make all the data and methods fully available on our website. We have a longstanding collaboration with Consumer Reports advocating for transparency of healthcare information and we look forward to continue to give consumers the information they need[INVALID]and deserve[INVALID]before entrusting their lives to a hospital.[INVALID]Leah Binder, President & CEO, The Leapfrog Group