As soon as Consumer Reports released ratings of 2,500 hospitals' surgical safety based on hospital billing data for Medicare patients Wednesday, many area hospitals were quick to respond.
The main criteria of the magazine's ratings: the percentage of patients who died or staying the the hospital longer than expected and looked at 27 kinds of common scheduled or elective surgeries, including hip and knee replacements, back surgery and surgery to clear blocked arteries.
Among eight Northeast Florida hospitals included in the study, Mayo Clinic scored the highest rating -- the only hospital to get the consumer magazine's highest rating.
St. Vincent's Medical Center in Riverside was rated near the top of hospitals nationally for knee replacement surgery, but received only an average surgical rating overall.
"I think we always strive for excellence," said Dr. David Heekin of St. Vincent's. "I mean, every surgeon in his heart wants his patient to do well. I think there are a number of things to achieve a good outcome. A good surgeon in a mediocre hospital will have mediocre results."
Other hospitals in our area that received an average rating were:
- UF Health in Jacksonville -- formerly Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center
- Putnam Community Medical Center in Palatka
(Hospital comment: "This rating demonstrates that people in Putnam county can feel confident in coming to our hospital." Read full response.)
Scoring the lowest for overall surgeries locally were:
- Baptist Medical Center in downtown Jacksonville
(Hospital comment: "Rankings are helpful tools, but they all have limitations. For a more complete picture, it’s helpful to talk to your physician or ask your family and friends for recommendations based on their past healthcare experiences." Read full response.)
- Memorial Hospital in Jacksonville
(Hospital comment: "We think it's a wise idea for patients to educate themselves before choosing a medical provider. It's important to note that this rating is not based on clinical outcomes, it's based on billing claims." Read full response.)
- Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine
(Hospital comment: "Studies of this nature should always be viewed as one snapshot or measure of care, and should by no means be considered the only source of information when evaluating hospital performance." Read full response.)
- North Florida Regional Medical Center in Gainesville, which was among the lower rated hospitals nationally for coronary angioplasty.
(Hospital comment: "This rating demonstrates that people in Putnam County can feel confident in coming to our hospital." Read full response.)
One local hospital was rated the second-lowest overall in the nation was Baptist Medical Center Beaches in Jacksonville Beach.
Responding to hospitals' complaint about the ratings, Consumer Reports said they hope the study will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.
The ratings aren't a perfect measurement, but they're an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice," said Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports' medical adviser.
The magazine also released a document to help patients decide where to seek medical treatment.