Safety of Surgical Patients in Hospitals Scrutinized by New Ratings

Are reputable and well-known hospitals as safe for surgical patients as they are perceived to be? Not all of them, according to a new set of ratings produced by Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports provides independent ratings for a variety of consumer products and services. It recently published a detailed look at surgery patient safety at almost 2,500 hospitals across the country.

The ratings included outcomes of 27 different surgeries, including hip or knee replacement, back surgery, angioplasty, and neck surgery (carotid artery). Researchers reviewed each hospital’s Medicare billings for 2009 through 2011 for those surgical procedures. The ratings reflect how the hospitals fared in avoiding adverse events, based on the number of patients who died during their stay or who stayed longer than they should have given the procedure. Not included in the ratings are any complications a patient experienced after leaving the hospital.

The patent safety findings for all 27 surgical procedures were combined to create an overall surgery rating for each hospital. VA hospitals were not included in the Consumer Report ratings.

Other organizations and governmental entities have provided their own ratings for patient care and hospital errors. Without naming names here, some of the nation’s most well-known hospitals did not fare as well as expected in this new survey as in those other studies, while some smaller hospitals rated surprisingly well.

The point is that hospitals – regardless of size and reputation – do make mistakes and sometimes patients suffer needlessly. It’s always a good idea to check the safety records and experience of the hospital and the surgeon prior to being admitted. But it’s not always an easy thing to do.

Even when provided this information, a surgeon or hospital can make a mistake, resulting in catastrophic consequences for the patient and the patient’s family. In those instances, an experienced attorney can conduct an investigation to determine who is at fault and obtain just compensation for the victims.