Consumer Reports: Hospital ratings

Dr. Sapna Parikh reports.
April 21, 2014 4:40:20 PM PDT
You go to the hospital to get well, but an alarming number of people die after something goes wrong.

Consumer Reports has rated thousands of hospitals across the country, looking at patient safety.

John James has dedicated himself to improving hospital safety. His teenage son died after what James says was a series of hospital errors.

"We got humans here. They make mistakes. The real question is are they making too many mistakes and are they learning from the ones they make? And my answer is they're not learning as well as they could be," said John James, patient safety advocate.

His analysis was published in the Journal of Patient Safety and found an estimated 440,000 people a year die after suffering medical errors in hospitals.

Consumer Reports has also studied hospital safety and just released ratings for more than 2,500 hospitals based on five safety measures.

"It looks at mortality, the chance of being readmitted to the hospital, hospital aquired infections, communications about drugs and discharge, and overuse of CT scanning," said Doris Peter, PhD, Consumer Reports.

In New York City, the top three are St. Francis Hospital, Hudson Valley Hospital Center, and John T. Mather Memorial Hospital.

Scoring lowest in terms of safety were Lawrence Hospital Center, Nyack Hospital, and Kings County Hospital.

"Although this data is from people 65 and older, it's a good indication of a hospital's attention to safety. And we find the chance of dying is much higher in some hospitals than others," said Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports.

But keep in mind the scores are an average, some scored higher in some areas and lower in others.

In a statement, the Greater New York Hospital Association, which includes Kings County Hospital as a member says, "Like all hospital report cards, the methodology used by Consumer Reports has limitations and cannot fully reflect the level of care and number of successful patient safety programs at hospitals in the New York City area. There are many ways to measure hospital quality and patient safety, and no report card should ever be used as a definitive source. They are merely one tool that patients can use when making health care decisions."

Nyack Hospital and Lawrence Hospital Center also dispute the way these rankings were determined.


"Nyack Hospital does not acknowledge the methodology used by Consumer Reports to develop its so-called 'safety score.' The score relies on raw data, is not risk-adjusted for the severity of patient illness, and does not reflect the statistical significance of the data reported. The data reported by the federal government on its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services' "Hospital Compare" website show that Nyack Hospital's performance is not different from national averages except in one category. The Hospital acknowledges the reported difference in CT scanning rates, which reflects a data collection and reporting inconsistency, not an underlying deviation in clinical practice. Nyack Hospital has received The Joint Commission's 'Top Performer on Key Quality Measures' award for the last three years - one of only 182 hospitals to do so, and an 'A' safety score, the highest available, from The Leapfrog Group."
- Michael Rader, M.D., Vice President & Medical Director Nyack Hospital


"The data used dates back as far as 2009 and 2010 and the report unfortunately does not account for underlying medical conditions, patient age or if a patient was on palliative care. There are many factors to hospital safety and Lawrence Hospital Center works continually to improve, as all hospitals do, such as in the area of reducing infection rates where we earned Consumer Report's top rating. Since 2011, LHC has added 24-hour in-house Hospitalist and Intensivist programs which are two examples of many initiatives designed for quality and patient safety."
- Tracy Conte, Vice President, Lawrence Hospital Center

CONSUMER REPORTS ARTICLE: Survive Your Stay at the Hospital -

CONSUMER REPORTS: Hospital Rankings -