Hospital quality ratings questioned

HHS maintains a web based Hospital Compare tool which “provides you with information on how well the hospitals in your area care for all their adult patients with certain medical conditions.” The tool is based principally on information provided by the Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA): Improving Care Through Information.

The Associated Press reports that researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have published a study in the AMA Journal that analyzed the death rates at the 3,657 hospitals evaluated by Hospital Compare. “The study examined three conditions that often lead to hospitalization — heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia — and found that death rates for patients with those diseases were only slightly lower at top-rated hospitals in 2004 than at the lowest-rated hospitals.” The researchers contend that HHS needs to develop better quality measures. An HHS rebuts that “researchers likely would have found bigger differences among hospitals if they’d examined all 22 quality measures used on Hospital Compare.”