Thursday, September 15, 2011

Joint Commission Proves It's as Irrelevant As HealthGrades

The New York Times reports that the Joint Commission has just published a list of its 405 "Top Performing Hospitals." As is typical of these types of evaluations, most of the large, well-known teaching hospitals where knowledgeable folks [like doctors] go for care when they are really sick didn't make the list.

Similar to the HealthGrades list of "top" hospitals [which I have commented about in the past], the JC's list is dominated by small community hospitals without teaching programs. These institutions know how to play the game and have figured out that compliance with process measures results in high marks from the likes of HealthGrades and the JC. For a related post on why process measures don't mean better care, click here.

At least the Times article pointed out that no hospital in New York City made the JC list. What about Chicago? Sorry, just a children's hospital and a VA hospital. Philadelphia? No university hospital but one community hospital. Surely University of Pittsburgh Medical Center? No, not the main hospital but several of its suburban affiliates made the list. St. Louis? Nope, no good hospitals there. Pick any major city. See the list for yourself.

Guess which state had the most top performing hospitals by far? It's a state that immediately comes to mind when one thinks of quality medical care. Of course, Florida with 51, not one of which was a university hospital unless you want to count the University Hospital & Medical Center of Tamarac. A visit to its website fails to reveal the name of the university it is affiliated with. However, Don Shula, former Miami Dolphins coach, endorses the emergency department in a short video.

A survey I would like to see is what hospitals would the executives of HealthGrades and the JC choose if they or a family member had a serious illness? I'm guessing that list would be a lot shorter and would not include more than 400 of the 405 on the JC list of top performers.


Anonymous said...

i am a doctor and all i have to say is joint commission is a self serving, idiot mess who are forced on hospitals at a great cost with little or no benefit. they should be investigated, there is no oversight to their actions or powers. if jc were setting rules for your home, they would prescribe exactly how many sheets of toilet paper you could use per wipe and how many wipes you should execute and in what direction. they are horrible waste of taxpayer money. they are nonprofit but i would like to know their salaries

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Thanks for commenting. As you might expect, I agree with you completely.

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