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Big Name Hospitals Not Always the Best for Surgeries

Update Date: Jul 31, 2013 09:36 AM EDT

Although hospitals can tend to almost every need that a patient has, where an individual chooses to go get medical care is influenced greatly by the hospital's name, especially when it comes to life threatening procedures, such as surgeries. The bigger hospitals with the more prestigious names are often believed to be the best. However, people forget that not one hospital is the best at everything and thus, it is important to find a hospital that caters to one's specific needs. In a new report, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports released a list that ranks hospitals within the United States based solely on surgical care.

"Consumers have very little to go on when trying to select a hospital for surgery, not knowing which ones do a good job at keeping surgery patients safe and which ones don't," the director of the Consumers Union's Safe Patient Project, Lisa McGiffert said reported by Consumer Reports. "They might as well just throw a scalpel at a dartboard."

In the first report of its kind, the Consumer Reports gathered the medical data from 2,463 hospitals throughout all 50 states as well as Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico. From the data, the researchers focused on the medical outcomes of 27 different kinds of scheduled surgeries. The ratings for each procedure were all combined into one overall surgery rating. The researchers also rated five specific surgeries: back surgery, hip or knee replacement surgery, angioplasty, which is the removal of blockages in the arteries of the heart and carotid artery surgery.

The data was provided by the billing claims that the hospitals had sent in to Medicare for patients who were 65-years-old and older. The data was composed from 2009 through to 2011. In order to analyze the data more efficiently to develop these ratings, Consumer Reports worked with MPA, which is a health care consulting company. The ratings will hopefully give patients a better idea about where to go if they need surgeries.

"This is a step in the right direction," the former president of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, Paul Levy said according to Reuters. Levy was not a part of the study. "To whatever extent you can empower patients to get better care and become partners in pushing the healthcare system to make improvements is to the good."

The Consumer Reports remind people that their ratings are just one way of viewing hospital performance. The researchers aimed to provide as much insight as possible given the data they received to create the list. However, there is no one-way of ranking hospitals.

"We wish we had access to more comprehensive, standardized information, but this is the best that is available," the medical director of Consumer Reports Health, John Santa, M.D., M.P.H., said. "Our surgery Ratings give patients more information so that they can make informed choices before surgery. And we hope that by highlighting performance differences, we can motivate hospitals to improve."

The ratings of the hospitals can be found here.

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