Tuesday, March 1, 2011

America’s Top 50 Hospitals. Says Who?

If you are looking for a chuckle, read the recently published HealthGrades list of America’s top 50 hospitals. The Healthgrades people have come up with a formula that selected 50 hospitals based on the following two parameters: “To be recognized with this elite distinction, hospitals must have had risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates that were in the top 5% in the nation for the most consecutive years. On average, patients treated at America’s 50 Best Hospitals had a nearly 30% lower risk of death and 3% lower rate of complications.”

That’s nice but it leads to some curious anomalies. For example, there are no university teaching hospitals on the list. By university teaching hospital, I mean a university hospital that serves as the primary teaching hospital for a medical school. Teaching affiliates rarely have the resources and research backup that university hospitals have. There are a few university-affiliated teaching hospitals on the list such as Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. [Note: for those of you outside the New York City metropolitan area, there is no Hackensack University.] But even if you want to count the university-affiliated hospitals, there are not even 10 on the list. Twelve of America’s top 50 hospitals are in Florida with an impressive six of those located near the apparent Mecca of modern medicine [if you believe HealthGrades], West Palm Beach.

Let’s say I live in New York City and get sick. No hospitals in the states of New York or Connecticut made the top 50 list. My choices for hospital care are either the aforementioned Hackensack University Medical Center or the Community Medical Center of Tom’s River, both in New Jersey. I have never set foot in either place. They might be great hospitals. But I think I’ll take my chances at Columbia Presbyterian, Cornell or NYU.

Do you live in St. Louis? Sorry, no top 50 hospitals there. But you can go to the only hospital in Missouri on the list, St. Luke’s Hospital in Chesterfield. Pennsylvania? Sorry, no top 50 hospitals in Pittsburgh or Philadelphia but there are four in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Scranton area. Boston? Too bad. No Massachusetts hospital is good enough to be included in the HealthGrades Top 50 list. I hope Mass General, Deaconess and the Brigham don’t have to shut down.

I could go on. But see for yourself.

I posted a similar blog on this topic in August of 2010. I think lists like this are misleading, if not actually harmful. I wish they would stop publish them. But I guess the unsuspecting public eats this stuff up. Oh, and it is certainly a boon for the public relations people at the 50 lucky hospitals on the list.

1 comment:

Plumtree said...

Chesterfield is in St Louis, and St Luke's is considered a good hospital. But I agree, most St Louisans would rather take their chances at Barnes or SLU Hospitals, if they were very sick; or at St John's (university affiliated and delivers 20% of babies in St Louis).

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