Medicare’s website rates your local hospital care
By BOB MOOS
Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
Have you wondered how your area hospitals stack up in terms of the quality of care they provide?
Emergencies obviously call for rushing to the nearest hospital. But when you have time to plan, it is worth doing some research and finding out which hospitals do the best job of caring for their patients.
Medicare’s Hospital Compare website ( medicare.gov/ hospitalcompare/search.html) has just made it easier for you to check that. The site has added overall star ratings to help you better understand which hospitals are top performers, which are average and which need improvement. The ratings range from one to five stars, with five being the best.
The Hospital Compare site already enjoys a solid reputation with the public, showing how 4,600 hospitals scored on various indicators of quality care. You can compare hospitals on the basis of such factors as clinical outcomes, customer satisfaction and patient safety.
The new overall star ratings offer a snapshot of a particular hospital’s quality of care by summing up 64 individual measures of hospital performance already posted on the website. The ratings reflect such factors as how often patients get infections after surgery, how long patients must wait in the emergency department before seeing a doctor or nurse, and how likely patients are to get admitted to the hospital after a heart attack. The stars take into account the mix of patients at a hospital, so that those facilities with a high percentage of sicker patients aren’t rated lower than those that handle more run-of-the-mill cases.
Medicare assigned stars to 3,662 Medicare-certified hospitals nationwide. Another 937 couldn’t be included, mostly because they didn’t have enough data to properly evaluate them. They may have been too new or too small and, therefore, had too few cases on which to base ratings. The ratings will be updated quarterly on the website, as the government continues to collect the most recent data.
Nationally, 102 hospitals received five stars, 934 rated four stars, 1,770 scored three stars, 723 received two stars, and 133 had just one star.
The 31 rated New Mexico hospitals scored an average of 2.7 stars for overall quality of care – slightly below the national average. None received five stars, three rated four stars, 17 scored three stars, 10 received two stars, and one hospital had just one star.
The three New Mexico hospitals that received four stars were Lovelace Westside Hospital in Albuquerque, Nor-Lea Hospital District in Lovington and Gila Regional Medical Center in Silver City.
The two Las Cruces hospitals scored as follows:
• Mountain View Regional Medical Center, three stars
• Memorial Medical Center, two stars