Many people just end up going to the hospital that is most convenient or nearest to where the patient lives. However, after getting poor treatment, being ignored by your doctor, or where you were suspicious of medical mistakes, you may be tempted to look elsewhere. How are you supposed to know which hospitals are better? You may be able to look at the hospital’s rating to get an idea of what you can expect if you need medical treatment.
The following provides useful information about hospital ratings, where to find out about your hospital, and how to choose which hospital to get care. However, it is important to remember that medical errors can happen anywhere. Medical malpractice injuries can even happen at the best hospitals and under the care of the best surgeons.
If you have questions about whether your injuries were caused by medical negligence, talk to your experienced medical malpractice team for legal advice.
Types of Hospital Rankings Guides
There are a number of public and private resources that rate and rank hospitals in the U.S. Some of the most common hospital ratings include:
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
- U.S. News and World Report
- Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade
- Joint Commission
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Hospital Ratings
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) has a Hospital Quality Initiative that evaluates the quality of care of hospitals and care facilities. According to CMS, the intent of the initiative is to improve the quality of care that hospitals provide and to distribute clearly defined and objective data about hospital performance. The CMS also has a star rating, from 1 to 5, with 5 representing the highest rating. However, the CMS ratings do not include data on patient outcomes or quality of care.
Using this information and other tools, Medicare has a “Care Compare” website where users can find and compare hospitals, nursing homes, and other providers in their area. The listings have an overall star rating and a patient survey rating. The overall rating star is based on the hospital’s performance in different quality areas, including:
- Safety of care
- Patient experience
- Timely and effective care
Hospital ratings include a star rating, quality report, and details about the hospital’s CMS-ranked performance. Details include the type of facility, whether it provides emergency services, and the vaccination rates of healthcare personnel at the facility. The quality report includes information on categories, including:
- Timely & effective care
- Complications & deaths
- Unplanned hospital visits
- Maternal health
- Psychiatric unit services
- Payment & value of care
These categories are further reviewed and compared against the national average and state average. For example, the Care Compare search for Philadelphia, Pennsylvania shows more than 50 hospitals. An example of a 5-star rating hospital includes the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania. Looking at the listing for complications related to hospital-associated infections, the rate of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) blood infections, the hospital’s rate is better than the national benchmark. However, the rate of catheter-associated urinary tract infections (CAUTI) was worse than the national benchmark.
When looking at a hospital’s ratings using the CMS website, you may want to look at the specific areas of care that are important to you. If you are concerned about getting an infection in the hospital, review the infection reports. If you are concerned about how quickly you can receive care, look at the timely and effective care section. If cost is an important factor, look at the payment and value of care category.
U.S. News and World Report Hospital Ratings
U.S. News and World Report was started as a magazine but now focuses on publishing rankings. Rankings include reporting on the best colleges, cars, states, and hospitals. The U.S. News hospital ranking is based on the company’s own calculation method that reviews difficult medical cases in a variety of specialties. As a result, the CMS ranking and U.S. News rankings could have very different ratings for the same hospital.
According to U.S. News, they evaluate a hospital’s performance using various measures, including data from the CMS Standard Analytical File database, information from the American Hospital Association, and other information from professional organizations. This includes patient outcomes, survival rates, and quality of care. A physician survey is also considered for the hospital’s ranking.
Users can go to the U.S. News website for Best Hospitals and see the national rankings or look for hospitals in their area. For example, a search for hospitals in Baltimore, Maryland in 2022 found 33 hospitals. The top 5 ranked hospitals in Baltimore were listed as:
- Johns Hopkins Hospital
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- Luminis Health Anne Arundel Medical Center
- University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center
- MedStar Union Memorial Hospital
A review of the Johns Hopkins Hospital rating also lists it as tied for #5 Honor Roll, nationally ranked in 15 adult specialties, 10 children’s specialties, and high performing in 18 procedures and conditions. For example, looking at the scorecard for cancer treatment, the hospital had the highest rating of “excellent” for 30-day survival, discharging patients home instead of another facility, patient services, advanced technology, and the number of patients.
If you want to use the U.S. News rankings to find out which hospital might be best for you, even U.S. News indicates the rankings should only be used as a starting point. Patients should review information that is relevant to the care they expect to receive, including specific practice areas, areas of specialization, and categories that are important to them. Patients should also talk to their healthcare providers about finding the right hospital.
Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade
According to Leapfrog, “The Leapfrog Group is a nonprofit watchdog organization that serves as a voice for health care consumers and purchasers, using their collective influence to foster positive change in U.S. health care.”
Users can go to the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade website and search hospitals by location to get a report of the safety grade. For example, a search for hospitals in Washington, D.C. finds 46 matching hospitals. The hospitals have an accompanying grade, from A to F, with A representing the top grade.
An example of a nearby A-rated hospital in Annapolis, Maryland is the Anne Arundel Medical Center. A review of the full score further breaks down the rating system, including:
- Problems with surgery
- Safety problems
- Practices to prevent errors
- Doctors, nurses, and hospital staff
Looking at each category, sections are evaluated as performing below average, average, or above average. Scores are also compared against the best hospital’s score, average hospital’s score, and worst hospital’s score. For example, the Anne Arundel Medical Center is rated above average for dangerous objects left in a patient’s body but below average for surgical wound splits open.
Like the other ranking systems, this can provide useful information but patients should look closely at the reports to find out how the hospital is rated in their area of care. For example, if you are pregnant and looking at hospitals where you are going to deliver your baby, you may want to review maternity care information to find out about how the hospital is prepared if there is an emergency or high-risk delivery.
Healthgrades Hospital Ratings
Healthgrades is an online resource that is advertiser supported, with profiles available for doctors and healthcare providers. Their listings are based on information from the National Provider Identifier Registry of all active healthcare providers, as well as information from providers, and reviews from patients. Hospitals can pay to have their ads sponsored.
A search for hospitals in your area will show hospitals and may show the percentage of patients reporting that would definitely recommend. For example a search for Chicago on November 8, 2022, shows Northwestern Memorial Hospital has 83% of patients that would definitely recommend. Users can click on the profile to find additional information about hospital quality, patient experience, and reviews.
Newsweek Hospital Ratings
Newsweek is another resource that ranks the best hospitals in the United States. According to Newsweek, the methodology for rating the top hospitals uses information from 3 data sources:
- Recommendations from medical experts (doctors, hospitals managers, health care professionals) (55%)
- Results from patient surveys (15%)
- Medical Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on hospitals (30%)
Recommendations from other medical professionals had the greatest impact on rankings, followed by the medical key performance indicators and metrics. KPIs included data on a variety of hospital topics, including the quality of specific treatments, hygiene measures, patient safety, and the number of doctors per nurse.
According to the 2022 review, hospitals that were in the top 100 hospitals nationally in the following cities include:
- Johns Hopkins Hospital (#4)
- Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center (#58)
- University of Maryland Medical Center (#75)
- Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania – Penn Presbyterian (#15)
- Jefferson Health – Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals (#59)
- Northwestern Memorial Hospital (#9)
- Rush University Medical Center (#16)
- University of Chicago Medical Center (#27)
Like the other review and ranking websites, this information is intended to be a tool and not the sole basis for making healthcare decisions.
Joint Commission Hospital Accreditation
The Joint Commission is a nonprofit organization that accredits health organizations and care centers. The Joint Commission does not have individual ratings that are available to users but instead accredits (or does not accredit) hospitals after evaluations and reviews. Prospective patients can search the Quality Check website for their area to see if their hospital has Joint Commission accreditation and the certification status.
For example, a search for Chicago, Illinois shows 35 accredited Illinois hospitals. Users can view the report of each hospital for more information. For example, the Quality Report for the University of Chicago Medical Center shows the accreditation decision, last full survey date, and accreditation history. A review of the quarterly measure results may also show the hospital’s results in a number of care areas, compared to top hospitals and average hospitals.
Does a Good Hospital Rating Equal Good Care?
Unfortunately, searching a website for the best hospital does not mean that the top rated hospitals are the best option for you. Poor medical care can happen at any hospital, even at the top-rated hospitals in the country. It may only take one employee or doctor to make a mistake to cause serious injury or illness for the patient.
For example, a top hospital hires a new employee who is responsible for sanitizing surgical devices. The employee wasn’t paying attention during training and misses sterilizing one of the surgical tools before returning the surgical tool for use. The surgeon may have no idea the tool is not clean and could be the top surgeon in the country. However, using that unsanitized tool could result in a serious infection for the patient, all caused by the employee’s negligence.
Hospital ratings provide a simple glance at what the reviewing site reports as a top grade but these grades may not be as reliable as they appear. The methodologies used can change every year, which means a top hospital could rise or drop in the rankings even if they did nothing different over the previous year.
What Can I Do If I Get Poor Care at a Hospital?
What is a patient supposed to do if they were injured because of a hospital error? A hospital is not like a restaurant or car repair shop where you may be tempted to leave an online review. The best way to make a hospital pay attention to your concerns may be to file a medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice lawsuit allows injury victims to recover compensation for injuries caused by a deviation from the standard of care. The injury victim can get money for medical bills, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other damages caused by negligent medical care.
Contact experienced trial attorneys who have successfully represented medical error victims and their families to recover financial compensation, even from top hospitals. Take the first step in recovery by calling a malpractice lawyer to find out more about your case and what kind of damages you can recover. For a free consultation, contact Gilman & Bedigian online or at 800-529-6162.