Hospital Rankings Reflect Chance, Not Quality

Each estimate of a mortality rates comes with some uncertainty, called a confidence interval, reports Reuters Health. In the study, half of the confidence intervals overlapped at least 22 of the 42 possible ranking positions, meaning that if a hospital ranked number 15 on a list, it could have just as easily been named number 37, according to the article. The often cited U.S. News & World Report “Best Hospitals” list factors patient survival for 32.5 percent of the hospital score. Although it includes mortality rates within its rankings, it also includes other factors, such as patient safety and nursing and patient services, as well as–not without some public criticism–reputation, which accounts for 32.5 percent of the hospital’s score. Another recent study in the Archives of Surgery indicated that hospital rankings are often misleading and incomplete, failing to recognize high-volume hospitals of equal quality.

Full story here.

Comments (4)

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  1. Devon Herrick says:

    Including reputation as one-third of the score is akin to rewarding hospitals for investments in public relations and marketing. It would be better to encourage investments that actually improve quality rather than improve the perception of quality.

  2. Joe S. says:

    Fascinating. And embarrassing for US News and World Report

  3. Nancy says:

    This is definitely a surprise.

  4. Virginia says:

    This is a very scary thing. Here’s to hoping that we improve our measurement system in the next few years. The current system isn’t working.