"Wow, this is spectacular!" Yes, that would be nice. We'd even settle for, "Gee, this is really helpful." But, when the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its most recent report on hospital quality, the collective response was, "Uhm - so what?"
It's too bad. It appears the intentions are admirable: give the American consumer greater access to data that assesses a hospitals performance in critical care areas. In this case, the focus in on the treatment of heart attacks and heart failure, pneumonia, and the occurrence of surgical infections. This is information we'd like to know.
Unfortunately, the new release does little to inform. The data on heart attacks, for example, provides percentages for patients receiving various treatments: ACE inhibitors administered on admission, aspirin on arrival, and beta blockers upon discharge. However, the minor discrepancies in the percentages, typically just a couple points, do little to inform our health care decisions.
...Little - which is more than nothing. That's why the report receives a "mediocre" rating. It's better than nothing, but not by too much. There is still a long way to go in providing the American health care consumer with useful hospital quality assessments.
In the meantime, you may want to revisit the U.S. News & World Report's "Best Hospitals 2006." Ah... That's the way to assess - and report - hospital quality.To read more about the release of the recent report, see this from Reuters. To view the actual report, and to find data on hospitals within your region, see this from the Department of Health and Human Services.