The Link between Hospital Ratings and Medical Complications

Hospital ratings have become a hotly debated topic recently. A variety of governmental and private resources publish comprehensive ratings for hospitals and medical facilities across the country, and research shows that these ratings correlate significantly with potential patient outcomes regarding surgical complications and risks.

Unfortunately, the health care system may dictate where insured patients can seek covered services. Before you need a hospital, whether for an emergency or a scheduled procedure, do your research to find those facilities that have the best safety records.

American Hospital Quality Study Results

Healthgrades, a well-regarded physician and medical facility evaluation resource, recently published its annual “American Hospital Quality Outcomes” report. In an executive report, Healthgrades said that a significant variation in outcomes exists between hospitals, even after considering patient demographics and the potential for complications.

The outcome of this research was disturbing in many ways, as significant quality differences emerged within cities and geographic regions. Healthgrades, for example, ranks each hospital based on multiple criteria such as the number of deaths following post-surgical complications, or deaths during procedures with normally low mortality rates.

The Influence of Doctors and Insurers on Hospital Choice

Most insurance networks have service provider agreements in place with specific facilities and doctors. Likewise, most physicians and surgeons only have “privileges” at certain hospitals. The insurance plan you select (or that your employer provides) will ultimately dictate where you are able to seek care that will be covered by your plan and provider.

Not surprisingly, proximity also figures highly into hospital choice. Patients tend to default automatically to the closest hospital to their home, even for non-emergency procedures. Physicians often locate their offices in relative proximity to their hospital of choice as well. Ultimately, none of these elements should be the deciding factor in your selection.

Making Informed Decisions in Selecting a Hospital

It can be extremely difficult for patients to know how to select a hospital or medical facility. If an emergency arises, you may have little time to decide where you or your loved one should seek care. Hospital data regarding patient safety, complications and mortality rates are widely available online from a variety of resources, including Medicare.gov and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as well as Healthgrades and other private data collection sources.

It is important for consumers to realize that not all medical facilities are created equal. The most effective way to protect your health is to do your research before you need a hospital.

If you are a Utah resident who suffered an unexpected complication related to a hospital procedure or stay, you may be the victim of medical malpractice. Contact Rasmussen and Miner today to discuss your case. Research shows that hospital ratings do matter for patient safety.