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CMS Releases 5-Star Hospital Quality Rankings

By John Commins  
   July 27, 2016

Hospital groups pan the 'deeply flawed' Hospital Compare ratings, which critics say unfairly penalize safety net hospitals and mislead consumers.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Wednesday unveiled its updated Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings despite appeals for delay from the hospital industry.

"When individuals and their families need to make important decisions about healthcare, they seek a reliable way to understand the best choice for themselves or their loved ones," CMS Center for Clinical Standards and Quality Director Kate Goodrich, MD, said in a blog post accompanying the data release.

"Today, we are updating the star ratings on the Hospital Compare website to help millions of patients and their families learn about the quality of hospitals, compare facilities in their area side-by-side, and ask important questions about care quality when visiting a hospital or other healthcare provider."

Goodrich said the new Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating methodology takes 64 existing quality measures already reported on the Hospital Compare website and summarizes them into a unified rating of one to five stars.

"The rating includes quality measures for routine care that the average individual receives, such as care received when being treated for heart attacks and pneumonia, to quality measures that focus on hospital-acquired infections, such as catheter-associated urinary tract infections," she said.

CMS said the Star Rating is based on questions such as:

  • How often do patients get an infection after surgery?
  • How long on average do patients have to wait in the Emergency Department before seeing a provider?
  • How often do patients develop complications after hip replacement surgery?
  • How likely are patients to get readmitted to the hospital after a heart attack?
  • Will patients receive multiple CT scans or MRI's?

Of the nearly 4,599 hospitals that were graded:

  • 102 (2.2%) received 5 stars;
  • 934 (20.3%) received 4 stars;
  • 1,770 (38.5%) received 3 stars;
  • 723 (15.7%) received 2 stars;
  • 133 (2.9%) received 1 star; and
  • 937 (20.4%) received no ranking due to insufficient data.

The average Star Rating for teaching hospitals (mean = 2.87) was similar to, but slightly lower than that for non-teaching hospitals (mean = 3.11). 

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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