U.S. News Unveils Its First Hospital Ratings in Common Care

By US News and World Report

Washington, D.C. – May 20, 2015 – U.S. News & World Report, publisher of Best Hospitals, today unveiled the broadest expansion of its analysis of hospital quality since it began ranking medical centers 25 years ago. The new Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings cover nearly every hospital in the country and evaluate each one in five common surgical procedures and medical conditions that account for millions of hospitalizations a year.

U.S. News developed the new ratings to help patients easily identify hospitals in their communities that excel in treating common conditions. Patients can look up any U.S. hospital at no cost at usnews.com to see how it rates in three common operations – heart bypass, hip replacement and knee replacement – and two widespread chronic conditions – congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. A hospital may be rated as “High Performing,” “Average” or “Below Average.”

Approximately 90 percent of the hospitals rated in each condition or procedure were High Performing or Average. Hospitals were not rated in a procedure or condition if they treated too few patients of that type for U.S. News to conduct a rigorous statistical analysis.

“The choice of hospital can be life-changing even for relatively routine surgery. Hospitals can differ greatly in quality, and excelling in one area doesn’t guarantee that a hospital excels in other areas,” said Ben Harder, chief of health analysis for U.S. News. “The good news for patients is that the majority of hospitals performed average or better.”

U.S. News’ analysis of the data also found:

  • Approximately 10 percent of the hospitals rated in each condition or procedure were High Performing, meaning their quality measures were statistically better than the national average. Another 10 percent were statistically below average.
  • More than 700 hospitals were rated High Performing in at least one procedure or condition.
  • More than 700 hospitals were rated Below Average in one or more procedures or conditions. In each surgical procedure, a Below Average rating was associated with a mortality rate approximately twice the national average.
  • Thirty-four hospitals earned High Performing ratings in all five procedures and conditions. Another six hospitals that do not offer heart bypass surgery earned High Performing ratings in all of the other four categories.
  • More than 1,700 hospitals treated too few patients to be rated in certain procedures or conditions. Patients treated in these very-low-volume hospitals fared worse than similar patients treated elsewhere. For example, mortality among hip patients undergoing surgery at unrated hospitals was more than 60 percent higher than among patients at all rated hospitals.

“It’s important for patients, in consultation with their doctors, to be able to research a hospital and know the hospital has treated a sufficient number of patients like them,” said Harder. “Our Best Hospitals for Common Care ratings give patients access to more information and help them make more-informed choices among the hospitals in their communities.”

To generate the ratings, U.S. News evaluated hospitals across more than 25 quality measures – including mortality, readmissions, infections and patient satisfaction scores – and analyzed more than 5 million patient records, taking into account each patient’s health conditions, age, sex, socioeconomic status and other factors affecting risk.

The ratings rely on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services data for patients 65 and older, as well as data from the American Hospital Association annual survey and clinical registry data from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The analysis was carried out in collaboration with Dr Foster, an international health care analytics company with expertise in claims-based risk adjustment.

A subset of the Best Hospitals for Common Care results will appear in the “Best Hospitals 2016” guidebook, which hits newsstands September 1 and will be available for preorder on usnews.com starting August 4. The U.S. News Best Hospitals rankings, which help patients with life-threatening or rare conditions identify hospitals that excel in treating the most difficult cases, will be available in July.

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