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How Are Hospitals Ranked?

Published on Oct 22, 2021 at 12:24 pm in Medical Malpractice.

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We need good systems of accountability for our hospitals and medical care facilities. In a country in which medical mistakes rank among the top three causes of death each year, we more than ever need ever-improving methods for identifying and fixing weaknesses in our state and national medical systems. Ranking and scoring hospitals on quality of care is one way to help hold medical institutions accountable. Although a shining report card does not eliminate the possibility of medical malpractice, it is an effective way to encourage responsibility, and a way for current and future patients to learn about a facility’s history of patient care.

Making informed medical decisions is an important part of every person’s health journey. In this article, we will discuss how hospitals are ranked, how to find a hospital’s rank based on various scoring systems, which hospitals in West Virginia are most highly ranked, and what to do if you encounter medical malpractice.

How Do Hospitals Get Ranked, Rated, and Scored?

There are several ranking systems for hospitals and medical facilities in the United States. We will discuss a few of the most recognized scoring systems later on. But it’s important to take note that not all scorecards are created equal. There are unlimited factors that can be taken into account when attempting to measure the quality of a hospital—everything from cost to death rates to food quality to technology usage. The following factors are the ones most commonly assessed in U.S. hospital rating systems, although not every scorecard prioritizes the same set of factors.

  • Patient experience
  • Mortality
  • Safety
  • Cost
  • Efficiency
  • Cleanliness
  • Use of technology
  • Length of patient stays
  • Medical procedures and treatment quality
  • Outcomes
  • Readmissions, complications, and deaths

And quality evaluations may focus on a specific type of hospital care, such as:

  • Inpatient care
  • Outpatient care
  • Pediatric care
  • Medication safety
  • Maternity care
  • Surgical procedures and outcomes
  • Managing infection

Results may further be broken down and assessed by relevant factors including:

  • Type of ownership (public or private)
  • Geographical territory
  • Rural vs. urban
  • Affiliated health system
  • Size
  • Specialties
  • Insurance policies

How Can I Find a Hospital’s Rank or Score?

There are a few different places you can look for best hospital rankings and a specific hospital’s score. One primary rating system comes from the federal government through the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey has been used for many years to rate hospitals. HCAHPS (“H-CAPS”) was the first national, standardized, publicly-reported survey of patients’ perspectives of hospital care. HCAHPS results are posted four times a year on the Care Compare website.

The CMS Care Compare website publishes Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings. This is a one-to-five-star system used to rank hospital in the following five categories: Mortality (weighing 22%), Safety of Care (22%), Readmission (22%), Patient Experience (22%), and Timely & Effective Care (12%). A hospital can be given one to five stars based on assessment results. Star ratings for 2021 indicate that the majority of hospitals rank with three (30.34%), four (29.45%), or two (20.57%) stars. Only about 6% of hospitals received one star in 2021. And about 13.5% received five stars.

On the CMS Care Compare webpage, you can directly search for a hospital by name, location, or type. The search results will give you the overall star rating and details for a hospital, as well as the results of the patient surveys completed by recently-discharged patients.

In addition to CMS scores, there are a few other nationally-recognized hospital scoring systems. The most well-known top hospitals list is the U.S. News Best Hospitals Ranking. This scoring system rates hospitals overall, and for specialties such as Cancer, Pediatrics, Cardiology, Diabetes, and Psychiatry. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade, Healthgrades, and Why Not the Best? also provide survey and assessment results for people seeking information about hospital quality online.

What Are the Highest-Ranked Hospitals in West Virginia and the U.S.?

U.S. News evaluated 61 hospitals in West Virginia. Three of those hospitals met high U.S. News standards and ranked at the top of the U.S. News rankings list for the state—West Virginia University Hospitals, Charleston Area Medical Center, and St. Mary’s Medical Center-Huntington. West Virginia University Hospitals additionally ranked nationally as a top Children’s Specialty Hospital.

Two hospitals in West Virginia were awarded CMS Five Star Ratings in 2021—Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital (Weston) and United Hospital Center (Bridgeport). Both hospitals obtained five-star overall ratings, while the patient survey results gave Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital four stars and United Hospital Center three stars in the most recent publications in 2021.

The number one ranked hospital in the United States is the Mayo Clinic, based on U.S. News healthcare rankings. Other best hospitals in the nation based on the same list include the Cleveland Clinic, UCLA Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital. Hospitals with the highest HCAHPS scores include the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Can Medical Malpractice Occur at a Highly-Ranked Hospital?

Regardless of rankings, there will without doubt be good and bad in every hospital setting. Even if you are being treated at a five-star or highly-ranked hospital, it’s always valuable to know the difference between what does and does not constitute medical malpractice. Some of our clients have asked if medical malpractice can occur at a top hospital with a high score. Or are you more likely to be a victim of medical malpractice at a low-ranking hospital? Sadly, the answer is that medical malpractice can occur anywhere, even among the most highly-skilled, experienced medical professionals. But a low or failing grade should certainly give you a reason to reconsider and research further if a hospital is right for you or a loved one.

Being closely involved and knowledgeable about your own medical care and treatment can help prevent incidents of malpractice. And if you believe you may have been misdiagnosed, were the victim of a surgical error or medication error, gave birth to a child with birth injuries, or were injured by a defective medical device, the law protects you from bearing the burden of another person’ negligence. To continue a conversation about your medical malpractice case, call to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys at DiPiero Simmons McGinley & Bastress, PLLC.

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