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Hospital Quality Ratings

Recently, CMS released a new grading system that gives a star rating to the hospitals in the US based on the quality of care provided. For the first time, hospitals are given one to five star ratings.

Out of the 155 hospitals that were rated, only the “Hospital for Special Surgery” in Manhattan received 5 stars. The Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, Unity Hospital and Highland Hospital in Rochester area, and the HealthAlliance Hospital Mary’s Ave Campus in Kingston received 4 stars, where out of the rest, 49 received 3 stars, 58 received 2 stars, and 35 received 1 star in the Five-Star Quality Rating System.

The star ratings are based on a number of targeted measures, which include safety of care, mortality, patient experience, readmission, timeliness and effectiveness of care, and proficient use of medical imaging. Interestingly, the hospitals that did not have enough measures to grade on, and were not given any rating.

The Healthcare Association of New York State immensely criticized the Five-Star Quality Rating System by CMS. Many other hospitals also questioned the methodology used for rating and raised concerns about the system. Tim Massie, senior vice president of Health Quest, which operates Northern Dutchess Hospital (rated -3 stars) and Vassar Brothers Medical Center (rated -2 stars), said that “no one ratings guide should ever be used to make a decision of where you should go for care.”

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Star Rating Criticized

The hospital officials said that while selecting a health care facility, patients should not just rely on a single source of information, but should check on multiple sources. In response to “below the national average” readmission rating of Vassar Brothers, Massie said that readmission rates depends on how much discharged patients follow a doctor’s advice for care and on patients without a primary care physician. “Many people don’t have a primary care physician and use the emergency room as their primary care doctor,” he added.

A spokesman for the Healthcare Association of New York State, Michael Pauley, said that patients “should talk with their physicians and local hospital staff” in case of any doubts regarding the star rating. “While HANYS supports the provision of quality data to help patients make choices and assist providers in improving care, we have concerns with the current CMS Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings program, because it oversimplifies the complexity of delivering high-quality care, uses flawed measures, fails to adjust for socio-demographic factors, and uses a methodology that cannot be replicated by hospitals or outside organizations,” Pauley added.