Hospital Compare Web Site May Offer Limited Patient Guidance

Hospitals' compliance to surgical processes of care not linked to several adverse outcomes
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- The use of information available on the Hospital Compare Web site doesn't help patients find hospitals that have better outcomes for high-risk surgeries, according to research published in the October issue of the Archives of Surgery.

Lauren H. Nicholas, Ph.D., of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed Medicare inpatient claims data for 2005 and 2006 on beneficiaries who underwent one of six high-risk operations in roughly 2,000 hospitals. They looked at 30-day postoperative mortality rate, surgical site infection, and venous thromboembolism as outcome measures, and also assessed hospitals' compliance with Surgical Care Improvement Project measures.

The researchers found that risk-adjusted outcomes didn't vary at hospitals with high compliance with the surgical processes of care -- which are found on the Hospital Compare Web site -- compared to medium-compliance hospitals for the outcomes (odds ratios ranged from 0.98 for mortality rate to 1.04 for thromboembolism). Nor did outcomes vary at low-compliance hospitals.

"Despite the intentions of the CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] to provide patients with information that will facilitate patient choice of high-quality hospitals, currently available information on the Hospital Compare Web site will not help patients identify hospitals with better outcomes for high-risk surgery. The CMS needs to identify higher leverage process measures and devote greater attention to profiling hospitals based on outcomes for improved public reporting and pay-for-performance programs," the authors conclude.

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