Consumer Reports Expands Hospital Ratings List

John Commins, April 19, 2013

Consumer Reports has nearly doubled the number of hospitals that fall under the updated hospital safety ratings that the magazine first published last August.

However, the expanded review that began with 1,159 hospitals last year and has grown to include 2,031 hospitals still shows low scores across five measures: readmissions, complications, communication, the overuse of CT scans, and infections. The data from federal and state governments cover different time ranges, depending on the specific measure.

The average score for all hospitals was 49. Consumer Reports said.

"When it comes to healthcare, average should never be good enough, and this average is clearly not even close," John Santa, MD, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in prepared remarks.

Santa said it was particularly worrying to see that almost two-thirds of the nation's 258 teaching hospitals that report enough data to calculate a safety score ranked below average. "Those hospitals should set the bar higher but that is not happening," Santa said.

In the New York City area, for example, 27 of the 28 teaching hospitals in the region scored below the national average. The exception: Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY. Overall, 58 of the New York City area's 70 hospitals with a safety score ranked below average.

University of Connecticut Health Center, John Dempsey Hospital had the dubious distinction of earning a score of 17, the lowest score of any teaching hospital in the nation. Officials at the Farmington, CT hospital issued a lengthy statement challenging the Consumer Reports rating.

John Commins

John Commins is a senior editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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