Monday, November 3, 2008

American Hospitals Rated

Grades are in on American hospitals, and while not horrible, they are also far from exceptional.

The American public has been queried about their satisfaction with our nation's hospitals in the first nationwide survey of its kind and their opinion is not stellar. Called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS), the survey was created by a public-private partnership including a wide variety of agencies. (The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the federal government's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality are central players in this partnership.)

Conducted in roughly 60% of all United States hospitals during a timespan running between July '06 and June '07, the HCAHPS polled patient perceptions of the health care they received. The survey itself was conceived to assist in crafting hospital policies while also helping provide consumer tools allowing informed heath care decisions.

The eight areas of patient perceptions covered in the survey were:

  • Communication with doctors, communication with nurses
  • Quality of nursing services
  • Communication about medications
  • Pain control
  • Information received when leaving hospital
  • Were hospital rooms were clean and quiet.
While the survey respondents were not glowing in their praise for our hospitals, they did reveal some surprising things. Ashish Jha is the assistant professor of health policy at the Harvard School of Public Health and lead author on the NEJM paper that analyzed the survey data. His analysis of the data collected brings some interesting details to light.

Via Laura Blue of TIME Magazine:
Jha's analysis of the data found that patients liked not-for-profit hospitals more, on average, than for-profit hospitals. Institutions with more nurses per patient were also more popular than those with fewer. And, on the whole, the hospitals that scored better according to the survey were also those that performed better on more traditional measures of clinical performance, such as providing the appropriate emergency treatment for heart attack or correctly following procedures designed to reduce risk of medical error.
If you want to find and compare hospitals using the data unearthed in this study, you can do so on the Medicare site here.

SOURCE: "Patients Give U.S. Hospitals So-So Marks" 10/30/08
photo courtesy of Jose Goulao, used under its Creative Commons license

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