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Consumer Reports Rates Hospital Safety

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, July 5, 2012

By category, here's what the CU scoring system consists of, and weights for each:

1. Deadly Infection—20%
CU rated hospitals by rates of catheter-associated central line bloodstream infections in intensive care units and some surgical site infections, and found that 202 hospitals reported infection rates higher than the national benchmark and "only 148 reported zero infections."

The data came from reports from 18 states that require infection rate reporting and from voluntary reports to the Leapfrog Group.

2. Radiation overload from imaging— 20%
According to a physician CR interviewed for the magazine article, far too many hospitals double-scan patients with CT, once without contrast and once with, although only 1% of patients need double scans, which dramatically increase radiation. Yet only 28% of hospitals in the CR rating had double-scan rates of 5% or less, the cutoff CR determined for a top rating. Radiation from CT scans, which are 100 to 500 times a chest X-ray, "might contribute to an estimated 29m000 future cancers a year," the advocacy group said.

3. Readmissions— 20%
Saying that up to 75% of hospital readmissions may be preventable, CR gave 166 hospitals its lowest score and none received a high score in this category.

4. Communication—20%
This was drawn from answers to HCAHPS survey questions such as whether doctors and nurses discussed new medications, asked if they'd need help when they got home, and whether they felt they were treated with courtesy and respect.  Nearly half of the hospitals "earned CR's lowest score for communication about new medications and discharge plans," CR said in a statement.

5. Avoiding Complications—10%
This is based on hospital-acquired complications and adverse events following surgeries, procedures, and childbirth.

6. Avoiding Mortality—10%
Mortality is based on a set of 18 measures of inpatient mortality following certain procedures and medical conditions

Each of these two categories is based on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's (AHRQ) patient safety indicators and patient quality indicators. Both are derived from what is posted on Hospital Compare.


Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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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