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Will Hospital Rating System Assist Patients for Best Place to be Treated?


Medical Malpractice Attorney Jacksonville FL: Will Hospital Rating System Assist Patients in Selecting Best Place to be Treated?

Medical malpractice attorney Jacksonville FL consider the hospital in question as well when reviewing your case.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently previewed how hospitals will fare on new star ratings. Nearly half will be rated as average, and hospitals that serve the poor will not score as well overall as will other hospitals, according to government figures.

The government says the ratings, which will award between one and five stars to each hospital, will be more useful to consumers than its current mishmash of more than 100 individual metrics, many of which deal with technical matters. The hospital industry, however, fears the ratings will be misleading and oversimplify the many types of care at the institutions.
CMS said it would release the ratings “shortly.” In a preemptive effort to rebut criticisms, it noted its analysis showed “hospitals of all types are capable of performing well on star ratings and also have opportunities for improvement.”

The stars are based on 64 individual measures of hospitals that are already public on the government’s Hospital Compare website. Those include mortality rates, the number of readmissions, patient opinions, infection rates and frequency of medical scans like MRIs.

Medical malpractice attorney Jacksonville FL does not discriminate, however, against hospitals ranked higher or lower than others.

Out of 4,599 hospitals, just 2.2%, or 102 institutions, received a five-star rating, while 20.3% received four stars, 38.5% received three, 15.7% earned two stars and 2.9% received a single star. For 20.4% of hospitals, the star rating was deemed not applicable, a status conferred on hospitals that did not meet minimum reporting thresholds.

The distribution remained similar in some ways when limited by size. Whether they had fewer than 100 beds, 100-199 beds or more than 200 beds, about 2% of hospitals received five stars and about 20% received four stars. However, about a quarter of the two categories of larger hospitals received 2 stars, compared with 5.6% of hospitals with fewer beds.

“The star ratings provide people a broader picture,” Medicare officials said in a statement. “CMS used a similar approach to simplify complex quality information on other healthcare quality reporting websites, such as Nursing Home Compare, Home Health Compare, Dialysis Facility Compare and Medicare Plan Finder.”

The ratings factor in the mix of patients at a hospital, so those with a high proportion of sicker patients are not supposed to rate lower than those that handle more run-of-the-mill cases. The analysis showed hospitals of different sizes also did about the same, and critical access hospitals — small, mostly rural facilities — performed slightly better overall.

Medicare did not consider the relative wealth of patients. Its analysis showed hospitals serving large swaths of low-income people tended to receive lower star ratings. An analysis by Kaiser Health News of the hospitals that CMS rates shows 22 percent of safety-net hospitals were rated above average — four or five stars — compared with 30 percent of hospitals overall. Twenty-nine percent of safety-net hospitals were rated as below average, with just one or two stars, while 22 percent of other hospitals received those lower ratings.

Dr. Janis Orlowski, an executive at the Association of American Medical Colleges, said the fact that so many prestigious hospitals fare poorly in the star ratings is a signal that Medicare’s methods are flawed.  The American Hospital Association also expressed continued concerns.

The government originally planned to release the star ratings in April but postponed it after a majority of members of Congress echoed the industry’s concerns. Debra Ness, the president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, a nonprofit in Washington, urged Medicare to post the ratings before the end of the month.

What do we take from all of this? Hospitals of all types are capable of performing well on star ratings and also have opportunities for improvement. Also, we provide free consultations for medical malpractice. Feel free to contact a medical malpractice attorney Jacksonville FL at Edwards & Ragatz, P.A.

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