Study: Hospital quality rankings inconsistent

Pia Christensen

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

A study published in the November/December 2008 issue of Health Affairs finds that five consumer-oriented Web sites that rank hospital quality are inconsistent and likely to confuse consumers.

The study involved rankings provided by Hospital Compare, HealthGrades, Leapfrog Group, U.S News and World Report, and Massachusetts Healthcare Quality and Cost (a state-run service). Researchers compared community-acquired pneumonia, total hip replacement, percutaneous coronary intervention, and coronary artery bypass grafting at nine Boston-area hospitals.

In American Medical News, lead author Michael B. Rothberg, M.D., M.P.H., said, “I don’t think these ratings are at the point where doctors or patients can really use them.”

Rothberg, an assistant professor of medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, also said that “Public reporting was created to be a tool for consumer choice and to improve quality, but the inconsistency in these systems does a disservice to patients rather than achieve its true potential.”

The American Medical News article also includes reactions from representatives of the rankings.

Note: Remember, AHCJ members can sign up for free access to Health Affairs.

1 thought on “Study: Hospital quality rankings inconsistent

  1. Pingback: As consumers see more hospital ‘report cards,’ reporters can explain their limitations : Covering Health

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