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CMS presents national quality data for hospitals

On Wednesday, July 27, 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a five-star rating system that applies to nearly 4600 hospitals across the United States. Although the CMS has provided data about hospitals for some time now, the five-star rating system is a new way for consumers to compare and contrast hospitals within their area.

The CMS looks at 64 different measures to determine where a hospital measures up. Some of these measures include:

  • Number of patient deaths
  • Number of patient readmissions
  • Postsurgical infection rates
  • Length of emergency room waits

While the number of malpractice claims a given hospital faces is not one of the criteria used by the CMS, higher numbers of patient deaths, readmissions and postsurgical infections can be a sign of the quality of care at a specific hospital, and the overall likelihood of medical malpractice.

These ratings will be updated each quarter. Currently, only 2.2%, received a five star rating. Roughly 20% of hospitals earned a four-star rating. The largest number of hospitals, or 38.5%, fell into the three star category. 15.7% of hospitals earned a two-star rating and nearly three percent of hospitals had only one star. More than 900 hospitals did not receive a ranking because they did not provide adequate data to the CMS.

Hospitals and Congress express concern about the star ratings

Upon news of the release of the five-star ratings system, the American Hospital Association stated that the new ratings system was "confusing to patients and families" and that these ratings "unfairly penalized teaching hospitals and those serving higher numbers of the poor." In response, the CMS stated that it plans "to study the effect of socioeconomic status on quality measures and payment programs based on measures."

Many members of Congress expressed similar sentiments. Earlier this spring, a bipartisan group of more than 60 Senators and 225 Representatives asked the CMS to delay and refine the rankings. In response, the CMS delayed releasing the five-star rating system until July.

While hospitals and members of Congress may not be fully on board with the new ratings system, this new ratings system is a quick and easy way for patients to compare hospitals within their regions.

If you have reason to believe that you have been harmed by a medical professional's negligence, it is important to discuss your situation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer. For decades, the attorneys of Fay Law Group, P.A. have provided the highest caliber of representation to individuals in all types of medical malpractice claims.

Sources: CMS Releases Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings, Medscape.com, by Ken Terry, July 28, 2016, First Release of the Overall Hospital Quality Star Rating on Hospital Compare, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, July 27, 2016

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