New Study Ranks Patient Safety in U.S. Hospitals, and Scores Are Not Good

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 180,000 hospital patients die each year from infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical harm. A report conducted byConsumer Reports, bolsters the unfortunate truth that many of our nation’s hospitals are not doing an adequate job protecting patients from known, inherent dangers.

Consumer Reports recently announced the findings of an in-depth study on hospital safety and provided safety rankings for the 1,159 hospitals included in the review. The rankings are based on a score of 100. The highest ranked hospital scored 72 – the equivalent of a “C” in any school classroom. And the lowest ranked hospital – one in Chicago – earned a 16.

Patient Safety Concerns in U.S. Hospitals

Investigators interviewed doctors, patients, and hospital administrators, and examined hospital infection incidents, and other information from government and non-government sources. The survey included six categories in determining the hospitals’ safety scores:

Avoiding infections – According to Consumer Reports, one in 20 hospitalized patients will develop an infection. This study looked at post-surgical infections and those developed in the ICU from central line catheters

Avoiding patient readmissions – If a patient has to return to a hospital, it could be due to the original treatment he received. No hospital in this study received Consumer Reports’ highest score in this category, while 166 received the lowest score.

Communication with patients regarding medications and discharge Unclear communication regarding medicines or discharge planning can lead to readmissions. About half of the hospitals received the lowest score in this category; none received the highest.

Appropriate use of CT scanning – Radiation from CT scans pose potential dangers to patients. Consumer Reports cites an expert who says that less than 1 percent of patients getting chest CT scans should get double scans. Only 28 percent of the hospitals in the survey had a double-scan rate of 5 percent or less.

Avoiding serious complications

Mortality rates

Only 18 percent of all U.S. hospitals are included in this study. The low participation rate is because very few hospitals fully report information regarding harm to patients, and the reporting standards are not uniform across the country.