Hospitals rated by Consumer Reports based on surgery safety
LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- If you need surgery, what are your chances of survival?
Hospitals nationwide were just graded for that and you might be surprised at some of the local results.
The results are from a recent Consumer Reports study.
Some Louisville hospitals got a C or lower on the overall scale.
It's a 19 page spread in the September 2013 Consumer Reports.
Tagged as an exclusive on its cover, the results indicate that when it comes to surgery safety, big-name hospitals sometimes don't live up to their reputations.
Dr. Janet Chipman, Director of General Surgery at Baptist Health in Louisville, urges consumers to read the fine print.
"You just have to be careful about how you compare these and make sure everyone's being judged fairly," said Chipman.
The magazine pulled hospital Medicare billing data from nearly 2,500 hospitals nationwide.
It used the length of hospital stay post-surgery as an indicator of patient well-being.
They looked at 27 categories of surgeries, then combined the data into an overall score.
Let's look at some local hospital grades:
Flaget Memorial Hospital in Bardstown is one of only two in Kentucky that got an excellent rating when it comes to surgery complications.
Baptist Health ranked one of the highest in the commonwealth overall but ranked below average in the surgery category, as did Norton Hospital downtown.
U of L Hospital and Jewish both were ranked among the worst in the surgery category.
In Southern Indiana, Clark Memorial Hospital ranked average among hospitals. So did Floyd Memorial.
Among those that have done better is Physicians' Medical Center in New Albany.
To consumers, these rankings probably sound very low.
"One of the problems is sometimes the hospitals feel like they haven't been adequately compensated for risk adjustment," Chipman told WDRB.
Dr. Chipman says that might explain why some of the smaller hospitals and medical centers have a higher ranking.
"If you have a hospital that takes care of very complicated patients and you're willing to take complicated patients, then those patients are going to have a greater risk of having a poor outcome. They (small hospitals) don't even have specialists that will even come in and take care of them so they send all those people here," she said.
WDRB also received written responses to the report from KentuckyOne Health and Norton Healthcare.
Thomas Johnson with Norton Healthcare writes:
"The Consumer Reports results are based on data that is as much as four years old, and there has been some question as to their methodology. For example, length of stay had a downward impact on their results, yet that is also an indication of serving patients with highly complex health histories and not necessarily a negative indicator of quality."
So if you can't or don't trust these published results, how should you decide where it's safest to go under the knife?
"Talk to your friends. Look at different consumer reports. Not just one, even though we did fairly well for this one in Louisville I think it's best to look at them all," said Chipman.
Keep in mind, many local hospitals have not yet been ranked.
If you're wondering about a specific hospital, click here.
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