Raleigh, N.C. — 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 "In addition, it relies on outdated information (2009-2011) that may be difficult for consumers to understand."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.