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Experts Say Hospital Quality Measurements Need Improvement

Consumer Health Day wrote last month about the unreliable use of patient death rates as a measure of the quality of a hospital.

The story explained how a new study from researchers a the Harvard Medical School examined varying measurement forms of patient death rates; researchers determined that they presented scattered scores for each individual hospital. Specifically, it was noted that mortality rates are examined in different ways by different hospitals, meaning that their comparison is often unhelpful.

As it now stands different “vendors” crease various measurement tools for hospital-wide death rates. The study used the same hospital and measured its score using different calculations made by each vendor. Over 2.5 million patients were analyzed in the study.

The study’s lead doctor explained, “It’s troubling that four different methods for calculating mortality rates as a measure of quality should yield such different results…common sense suggests that there is a problem.”

Thus, as is now stands there is no “gold standard” measurement upon which all others can be compared. Mortality rates remain a murky, subjective measure that is of little use to the average consumer looking to compare the quality of care provided at different facilities.

As our Chicago malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well aware, the quality of medical services often varies dramatically from one hospital to another or one physician to another. For that reason, it is important for all patients and their families to have tools at their disposal to understand the specific track record of each institution. This new data suggests the troubling idea that the tools currently used by those families are inadequate. Hopefully more examination of reporting methods creates a more universal system. All patients should be able to avoid being treated by those medical professionals with a track record that suggests a higher risk of becoming a malpractice victim.

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