By Brooke Strickland
By Brooke Strickland
When it comes to getting care in a hospital setting, you want everything to be on the up and up. You want the best in care, with confident nurses and doctors, a clean facility, and clear communication on all fronts. Well, you might be asking too much according to a new report published by Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports recently released individualized safety ratings for over 1,100 hospitals in 44 states. The ratings were based on six categories of patient safety: hospital-acquired infections, CT scanning, readmissions, communications about medication and discharge, complications, and mortality. After being evaluated on a 100-point scale, more than half of the hospitals had a score below 50%. Most of the hospitals scored lowest on communication about medications and discharge planning, with nearly 500 of the hospitals receiving low marks. Even the three top rated hospitals received under par safety ratings with scores in the 70 percentiles. If the mortality rate is high in a specific hospital, this begs the question, why should this be and how could this be? Low safety scores conjure up fears and legitimate concerns for many patients. Quality care and efficient, effective communication should be the goal for every hospital in the U.S.
Disturbingly, because of ratings like this, patients are likely to be wary of hospital care and will become more and more selective in which hospitals they choose. If a hospital has poor communication between doctors, staff, and patients, they're likely to make mistakes on medications given which could have serious and adverse effects.
Patients come to hospitals in crisis when life or death hang in the balance and expect the best from their providers. Should we interpret this data as saying we ought to lower our expectations regarding the health care services we are about to receive upon admission to a hospital? We need to have faith in our healthcare system and should vehemently and completely expect to receive above and beyond the highest possible level of care and unwaveringly expect to leave the hospital healed and in far better shape than we entered!
The Internet has allowed consumers to research the ratings and reviews of previous patients empowering those that search for the information the option of finding and choosing the highest rated and most proficient providers. Of course, this is making health care much more competitive and why shouldn't it be? Patients want to be involved in their care and want to pick the doctors, clinics and hospitals that are most qualified to provide the best care for them.
The report omitted overall success evaluations of hospitals in treating medical conditions, but in the end, it gave prospective patients the opportunity to evaluate what hospital they think is best and to think twice about where they receive their care. Patients believe poor care or communication is simply unacceptable when it comes to their own health and that of their loved ones.
 McCarthy, Kevin. "Lowest-scoring hospitals in our new safety ratings." ConsumerReports.org. July 5, 2012. http://news.consumerreports.org/health/2012/07/lowest-scoring-hospitals-in-our-new-safety-ratings.html Accessed July 6, 2012.
 McKinney, Maureen. "Consumer Reports releases hospital safety ratings." Modernhealthcare.com. July 5, 2012. http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20120705/NEWS/120709996?AllowView=VW8xUmo5Q21TcWJOb1gzb0tNN3RLZ0h0MWg5SVgra3NZRzROR3l0WWRMVGJVLzBFRWxiNUtpQzMyNVdyNEh3WUpiV24=&utm_source=link-20120705-NEWS-120709996&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=am# Accessed July 6, 2012.