Hospital Death Rates, Reality or Irrational?
Until recently, hospital death rates were a very closely guarded secret. For decades, the data existed but remained as something only discussed in boardrooms, far out of the reach of patients. That all changed Aug. 21 when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) made that information public for the very first time.
CMS regularly compiled this kind of data in the past. An effort to release similar findings in the 1990s came under a great deal of scrutiny as the statistics didn't give allowances for how sick, poor or elderly patients were.
Instead of focusing on a hospital's overall mortality rates, CMS chose a formula that concentrates on the death rates for three conditions widely viewed as a litmus test for a facility's overall performance - heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia. The statistics cover the past 2 years. CMS is claiming the numbers are so airtight this time that they have been presented with 95 percent accuracy. Also included are two dozen measures detailing how hospitals meet a variety of other needs, including childhood asthma and patient satisfaction rates.
Patient rights advocates are heralding the data as a powerful tool for patients to make educated decisions and influence the quality of healthcare. Critics are complaining the data doesn't take into account patient variables such as poverty level, lack of education, pre-existing conditions and noncompliance with their care plan, among others.
What do you think? Does this kind of data give an accurate picture of the quality of care at your hospital? What other mitigating circumstances might come into play that would affect patient outcomes?
You can check out the CMS data for more information.