Consumer Reports investigates hospital safety

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When you go to the hospital you expect to get better, but far too often that's not what happens. Every year, inadequate hospital care contributes to the deaths of thousands of patients.

A 2010 government report finds mistakes and other medical harm contribute to an estimated 1,500 deaths each month. And that's just among Medicare patients. The figure is conservative. Many of the medical mistakes that occur in hospitals are not reported, so we know about only a fraction of the problems that occur.

How safe is your hospital? Consumer Reports analyzed data from more than a thousand hospitals in 44 states and gave each hospital a safety rating in several categories, including:

  • Avoiding infections
  • Readmissions after discharge
  • Clear communication about drugs and discharge
  • The overuse of CT scans

The ratings show that even the best hospitals have room for improvement.

No hospital got a top score for preventing patients from being readmitted, or for communicating with patients about discharge instructions and new medications.

Hospitals are not required to make all their safety data available, and many don't, so the ratings cover only about one-fifth of American hospitals. The advocacy arm of Consumer Reports has called for a nationwide system to track medical errors and report them to the public.

The best hospital in Consumer Reports' Hospital Safety ratings is Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana, with a safety score of 72. The worst is Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago with a score of 16.

As for Florida, the best in the state is Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach with a 67 safety rating. Not far behind is the Mayo clinic Jacksonville with a 61 rating.

Memorial Hospital Jacksonville was given a 52, followed by Orange Park Medical Center with a 51.

By the way, the hospital with the lowest ranking in the state is Central Florida Regional Hospital in Sanford with a safety rating of 35.

This report is based on an article in the current August 2012 issue of Consumer Reports magazine. The issue will be on newsstands from July 10.

Copyright 2012 by The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.