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Consumer Reports now Reviews and Rates Hospitals

Editor’s note: Some interesting findings from the surveys around intensity, communications and discharge instructions. All of the foregoing link directly to health care costs.

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Consumer Reports, which reviews cars, electronics, appliances and more, is now also training its critical eye on the nation’s hospitals.

Subscribers will have access to patient satisfaction ratings, searchable by region, for more than 3,400 hospitals and nearly 50 teaching hospitals. The hospitals can also be compared with each other.

The Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center rates overall patient experience, doctor and nurse communication, room cleanliness, discharge information, hospital staff attentiveness, communication about new medications, pain control and noise level. The site also rates more than 200 prescription medications for more than 20 common medical conditions.

The hospital ratings are based on more than a million patient questionnaires collected by the federal government’s Hospital Consumer Assessments of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey in September 2008, with data released in June. Consumers can try out a 30-day free trial. A year-long subscription is $19.

The ratings already reveal some troubling issues. The staff at 92% of the hospitals were given the lowest possible rating out of five points for communicating about new medications, while 82% were slammed for the way they gave out discharge instructions. Nearly 30% scored just as poorly in the staff attentiveness category.

Data provided in part by the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice also seemed to suggest a link between patient satisfaction and treatment intensity — but the results were surprising. Patients seemed to be happier when they were given more conservative care.

Aggressive hospitals usually ordered frequent diagnostic tests and doctor visits, while requiring longer hospital and ICU stays and higher out-of-pocket payments, according to Dr. John Santa, director of the Health Ratings Center.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/shopping_blog/2009/08/local-hospital-ratings-at-consumer-reports-.html

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August 4, 2009 - Posted by | healthcare | , ,

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