Low-scoring hospitals rebuff Hospital Compare, Quality Finder data

Hospitals with low scores are arguing that recent data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) of 30-day mortality rates and readmissions of inpatient heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia do not tell the whole story.

The updated Hospital Compare website allows hospitals to gauge their performance against the national averages.

Although national mortality rates for heart attacks dropped by nearly 16 percent from 2007 to 2010, heart failure and pneumonia mortalities soared, at an increased 11 percent and nearly 12 percent, respectively.

Regarding readmissions, heart attacks were slightly higher at 19.9 percent, up from 19.8 percent. Pneumonia readmissions lowered slightly at 18.2 percent, down from 18.4 percent. Heart failure readmissions also decreased slightly at 24.5 percent, down from 24.8 percent.

Consumers can sort through the data with a Quality Care Finder for performance rates of hospitals, nursing homes, home health, and physicians.

Hospitals, however, refute the national data.

"These data seem to be opposite of what our own key measures show internally and also the Michigan Inpatient Database, collected by Michigan Health & Hospital Association," said Dr. Thomas Petroff, vice president of medical affairs at Ingham Regional Medical Center, in a Lansing State Journal article.

Another hospital argued that national averages also do not account for some hospitals taking on riskier patients.

"We have been doing congestive heart failure core measures for five years...I don't feel there's something we haven't done correctly to facilitate an increase in these deaths," said Kathy Bauman, chief operating officer of clinical services at Coshocton (Ohio) Hospital in a Coshocton Tribune article. "I think it's the number of patients and severity of some of their conditions that we're seeing."

CMS says it is targeting the tools to patients, aiding them to make informed decisions.

"These tools are new ways CMS is making sure consumers have information about health care quality and important information they need to make the best decisions about where to receive high-quality care," said CMS Administrator Don Berwick in a CMS press release on Friday. "These efforts are designed to also encourage providers to deliver safe, patient-centered care that consumers can rely on and will motivate improvement across our health care system."

For more:
- visit Quality Care Finder
- visit Hospital Compare
- read the Lansing State Journal article
- read the Coshocton Tribune article
- here's the CMS press release