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Medicare data shows gap in hospital ratings and actual performance

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers have always pushed for more public disclosure so that consumers can make reasonable choices as to their medical care. A new article stresses the importance of public disclosure even more so. A recent USA Today report exposed a significant discrepancy between the 120 hospitals given top marks by patients for providing excellent care and their darker distinction: they have high death rates for heart attacks, heart failure, or pneumonia. The USA Today analyzed Medicare data, offering insight into the relationship of patients’ and consumers’ perceptions of the quality of care that they receive from hospitals and more objective measures that influence medical malpractice, such as hospitals’ death and readmission rates. The director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services remarked that these findings are extremely important. He added that patient-survey data offers a look into how it feels to be a patient at different hospitals; however, he also stated that patients’ perceptions do not tell the entire story. Other factors can impact perceptions and performance. Over the past 10 years, patients, employers, insurers, and the federal government have demanded public disclosure of health care data due to rising healthcare costs and a flood of complex therapies. With this outflow of public information, patient consumers, insurance companies, and physicians can make better choices about where to obtain medical care.

Our Illinois medical malpractice attorneys understand that there are challenges to measuring hospitals accurately. Even the experts disagree about which measures to use and publicize. Medicare’s analysis of more than 4600 hospitals found that 323 (or in better terms – one out of every fourteen hospitals!) had above average death rates for heart attack, heart failure, or hospital complications such as pneumonia. Two hospitals – one in South Carolina and one in Mississippi – had high death rates in all three categories! On the other hand, thirteen hospitals had low death rates across the board. On a positive note, Veterans Administration (VA) hospitals performed extremely well, according to data released for the first time this year. Ten hospitals had lower death rates than average for heart failure while two were lower for heart attacks and five for pneumonia. All of the VA hospitals throughout the nation, including Chicago’s Hines hospital, were as good as or better than the national rate for heart attack and heart failure.

Read more about the new medical malpractice analysis at USA Today.