Consumer watchdog Consumer Reports ranks hospitals

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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 just rated almost 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 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 is rating hospitals on how patients fare during and after surgery. The group ranked the best and worst surgical facilities in the country.

“We rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications,” said Dr. John Santa with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports ranked on a five-step scale using better to worse as measures.

Top-rated hospitals in New York included Mount Sinai Hospital, NYU Langone Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, all in Manhattan, and Kenmore Mercy Hospital in upstate Kenmore.

The publication said it found that scoring high in one procedure was “no guarantee of success in others.”

It cited St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn, which got a “highest” rating for angioplasty and a “worse” rating for carotid artery surgery.

Los Angeles-area hospitals that ranked near the top include Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica and UC Irvine Healthcare in Orange.

Hospitals questioned Consumer Reports’ methodology.

Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.

Dr. John Santa, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser, says, “We know the ratings aren’t a perfect measurement, but we think they’re an important first step in giving patients the the information they need to make an informed choice.”

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