Many hospitals gather information on how patients fare after surgery, but that information is not usually available to the public. So it is hard to compare hospitals when you’re scheduling surgery.
Consumer Reports recently rated nearly 2,500 hospitals for common surgical procedures, using a source of information that is available -- hospital-billing data.
Researchers analyzed three years of Medicare billing records with the help of the health care consulting firm MPA. The analysis covered 27 kinds of common scheduled surgeries, including hip and knee replacements, back surgery, and surgery to clear blocked arteries.
Consumer Reports rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications.
Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.
Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser, said, “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.”
Consumer Reports says if you think you’ve been harmed in the hospital, contact your local or state health department. If you’re on Medicare, get in touch with your state’s Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.
Consumer Reports did evaluate hospitals across the country, and that includes hospitals in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. Again, the ratings compared medicare patients in hospitals nationwide and then gave a rating based on the percentage of Medicare patients who died in the hospital or had to stay longer than expected after their procedures.
The only hospital in northeast Florida to get Consumer Reports' best surgery rating was Mayo Clinic.
St. Vincent's Medical Center in Riverside was among the highest-rated hospitals nationwide for knee replacement surgery, but the hospital received only an average surgical rating overall.
North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville was among the lower-rated hospitals for coronary angioplasty.
As for Consumer Reports' overall ratings for hospitals in the area, when it comes to the 27 categories of common surgeries analyzed by Consumer Reports, earning a score of "average" are:
- Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka
- UF Health Jacksonville (formerly Shands)
- St. Vincent's Riverside
Scoring Consumer Reports' second-lowest overall surgery rating was Baptist Medical Center Beaches in Jacksonville Beach.
Rating among the lowest for the overall surgery rating were:
- Baptist Medical Center in downtown Jacksonville
- Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville
- Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine
- North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville