March 25, 2013

HealthAlliance Tops Consumer Reports' Hospital Safety Ranking

HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster, which is a member of Worcester-based UMass Memorial Health Care, scored the highest safety rating in the state in Consumer Reports' ranking released this month.

On a scale of one to 100, HealthAlliance scored a 67, while Milford Regional Medical Center came in second with a 65. Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge was ninth in the state with a 58. UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester came in 33rd with a score of 50.

The average score for all ranked hospitals was a 49, which Dr. John Santa, director of the magazine's health ratings center, described as "not even close to good enough."

The magazine, which offers independent reviews of consumer products and services, said teaching hospitals are also lagging in safety, with nearly two-thirds scoring below average.

It said it updated its safety ranking – last released in August – because the federal government began requiring more hospital to report safety data. The recent ranking contains 2,031 hospitals, compared to 1,159 seven months ago.

The safety score is compiled using public data on readmissions, complications, communication with patients, infections and the overuse of CT scans.

Consumer Reports said the rankings show some cause for concern.

Consumer Reports said its ratings have some limitations, including the use of data gathered by third parties. Additionally, hospitals in different states report data on infections differently.

The magazine said its ranking does not assess how successful hospitals are at treating medical conditions and recommends patients check multiple sources before choosing a hospital, including Leapfrog Group and the federal government's Hospital Compare website.

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