5 On Your Side

Local hospitals graded on success of surgeries

Posted July 31, 2013

— A report in the September issue of Consumer Reports is taking a look at how nearly 2,500 hospitals in the United States rank when it comes to patient success after surgery.

Based on nearly three years of Medicare billing claims, Consumer Reports looked at how patients fared after 27 kinds of common procedures, including hip and knee replacement, back surgery and surgery to clear blocked arteries.


Ratings were based on the percentage of Medicare patients who died or were hospitalized longer than expected. Also factored were re-admission rates as well as medical conditions, such as blood infections.


In North Carolina, Mission Hospital in Asheville scored the highest overall safety score – 70 out of 100.


Locally, Rex Healthcare in Raleigh scored 58; Duke University Hospital in Durham scored 55; and Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville scored 39.

Dr. Linda Butler, chief medical officer at Rex, says that although the hospital performed "relatively well," she fears it might cause more confusion.

"Unfortunately, this report doesn't give a clear indication of the quality of all surgical care for patients," Butler said in a statement. "In addition, it relies on outdated information (2009-2011) that may be difficult for consumers to understand."

Here's a look at how some other local hospitals fared. The full list is available to subscribers on ConsumerReports.org:

  • Maria Parham Medical Center, Henderson: 66
  • Granville Health System, Oxford: 65
  • Central Carolina Hospital, Sanford: 57
  • Durham Regional Hospital, Durham: 56
  • UNC Hospitals, Chapel Hill: 53
  • Nash Health Care Systems, Rocky Mount: 52
  • Vidant Medical Center, Greenville: 51
  • Wilson Medical Center, Wilson: 50
  • Wayne Memorial Hospital, Goldsboro: 47
  • Johnston Health, Smithfield: 45

Consumer Reports says that some local hospitals were not rated for a number of reasons, including not enough Medicare data to analyze for a rating or because they don't use the same billing system most other hospitals use.

They include Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital in Dunn; Chatham Hospital in Siler City; Duke Raleigh Hospital and WakeMed Raleigh Campus in Raleigh; WakeMed Cary Hospital in Cary; and Person Memorial Hospital in Roxboro.

Many hospitals track information on how patients fare after surgery, but it's not typically available to the public.

Consumer Reports' medical director, Dr. John Santa, says he hopes the ratings will help motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.

"We know the ratings aren't a perfect measurement, but we think they're an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice," Santa said.

Consumer Reports advises patients who think they have been harmed in the hospital to contact their local or state health department. Patients on Medicare can get in touch with their state's Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • ripetomatoes Aug 1, 2013

    Way to go, Smithfield.

    At least you're on a list of some kind.

    I survived, which makes it a success.

  • Viewer Aug 1, 2013

    This study evaluates old Medicare patients, like me. Guess where the patients with the more difficult problems are sent? Not to your local family, we are on a first name basis, clinic. They sent me to UNC.

  • etshoney Aug 1, 2013

    I was in Durham Regional in 2008 and it was terrible! I was there again recently and it's a different place! You couldn't ask for better care.
    If these stats are 09-11 I wouldn't put much faith in them.

  • superman Aug 1, 2013

    If you only perform two surgeries a year and you do them well you coult get a perfect score. Data can be distorted so that it proves what you set out to prove as you ignore data that doesnt prove your point.

  • robjustrob Aug 1, 2013

    I expected UNC Hospitals to rate low. My medic lert bracelet says "Do not take me to UNC Hospitals." And with god reason.

  • whatelseisnew Jul 31, 2013

    One of the things that every patient should be told IN WRITING is the success/failure rate of the specific surgeon AND the successful recovery rate at a particular hospital. ALSO, it is long past due to have PRICING available. I can't think of another business that are allowed to operate like health care providers. Imagine taking you car to a repair shop, they tell you that a new engine is required. You ask how much and they just tell you IT depends.

    "The larger hospitals like Vidant in Greenville, Duke and UNC healthcare perform much more complex procedure than many of these rural/small hospitals. We are not comparing apples to apples here."

    The comparison does not matter as much as it matters knowing what a place scores. Most places that do not DO complex procedures will send you elsewhere, or at least they should.

  • Pirate01 Jul 31, 2013

    The larger hospitals like Vidant in Greenville, Duke and UNC healthcare perform much more complex procedure than many of these rural/small hospitals. We are not comparing apples to apples here.

  • lsmith4272001 Jul 31, 2013

    No patient left behind.

  • Bartmeister Jul 31, 2013

    Note to self, don't have surgery in Fayetteville.