Patients rate hospitals

Portland-area hospitals are being judged by a new rating system based on patient’s experiences.

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Rating systems for hospitals are many, but they can be confusing and, some say, not actually helpful.

A new rating system using 2.4 million patients’ reviews aims to be a more helpful and accessible system.

Oregon began disclosing hospital infection rates last month. For now, these reports cover only three kinds of care: heart bypass surgery, knee-replacement surgery and the use of central-line catheters in intensive care. That’s not very helpful if you are choosing a hospital for childbirth, cancer care or other service. And because infections are relatively rare, some apparent differences between hospitals may reflect nothing more than random chance.

Several private companies offer proprietary rating systems, but studies have cast doubt on their reliability. Researchers in Boston compared five well-known reporting services and found that they consistently disagreed on the top- and bottom-performing hospitals. Two hospitals, for example, ranked last for bypass surgery by at least one service scored first or second in other rankings. Most rating systems didn’t perform statistical tests to prove that apparent differences were meaningful.


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