After Medicare released its star rating system for hospitals, most facilities in the Washington D.C. area received mediocre scores. In fact, patient-quality ratings across the nation were low, with only 251 hospitals in the United States getting five out of five stars.
Only 7% of hospitals in the nation received the maximum number of stars; none of these facilities are in Washington, D.C. or the surrounding region. Surprisingly, many big-name, reputable hospitals only got three stars, while most of the five-star hospitals were specialized facilities.
As insurance companies offer fewer choices, hospital ratings become more important.
Hospital evaluations are becoming more and more important as insurers continue to narrow the number of locations available to patients. With fewer choices, patients need to choose the right hospitals to meet their needs.
Medicare already provides a five-star rating for other facility types, including nursing homes and dialysis centers. Although Medicare provided rating information for hospitals in the past, most of this data was complicated and difficult to interpret.
Chief medical officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told reports, “We want to expand this to other areas like clinical outcomes and safety over time, but we thought patient experience would be very understandable to consumers, so we started there.”
Is the new rating system accurate?
Some hospitals fear that Medicare’s new rating system won’t give patients an accurate reflection of their services. Since the ratings are based heavily on patient reviews, critics of the new system say it doesn’t always reflect the actual quality of care, only patient approval.
Whether patient approval and hospitals’ actual quality of care are the same thing is debatable since there are other ways to gauge the success of a facility.
This concern may seem legitimate, but the new rating system actually considers 11 factors related to patient experience, increasing the precision of the scale.
Additionally, the rating isn’t based on an objective standard; it’s graded on a curve. In short, hospitals are ranking against each other, not a set of arbitrary requirements. This means that a one-star rating doesn’t always indicate a horrible patient experience. It could simply reflect a bad experience compared to other facilities.
The new rating system is a tool that should serve two purposes: to help patients find the right hospital and to encourage facilities to increase the quality of their care.
“We suggest that you use the star rating along with other quality information when making decisions about choosing a hospital,” said Medicare.
What to do if you suffer poor treatment at the hospital:
If you suffered an avoidable injury, illness, or the loss of a loved one at a negligent hospital, contact The Law Offices of Dr. Michael M. Wilson M.D., J.D. & Associates. Our Washington DC medical malpractice lawyers are standing by to provide the legal guidance you need. Contact us today!
Dr. Michael M. Wilson is an attorney and a physician who earned his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his legal and medical degrees from Georgetown University. He has focused in the area of medical malpractice for more than three decades and secured more than $100 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of clients throughout the country. He is admitted to practice in the District of Columbia and New York as well as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. He is listed in America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.