News Adds Hospital Comparison Data 2

The data from the Hospital Compare Tool includes information on how well hospitals care for patients with heart attacks, protect outpatients from surgical infections and use of imaging equipment.
The updated information on's Hospital Compare includes data on the rates of outpatient MRIs for low back pain, outpatient re-tests after a screening mammogram, as well as two ratios that explain how frequently outpatient departments gave patients "double" computed tomography (CT) scans when a single scan may be all that is needed. Hospital Compare also includes new measures that show whether outpatients who are treated for suspected heart attacks receive proven therapies that reduce mortality such as an aspirin at arrival, and how well outpatient surgical patients are protected from infection. Previously, Hospital Compare had provided data only about the quality of care provided to hospital inpatients.

"By reporting data on services provided in hospital settings like imaging on Hospital Compare, we can highlight the importance of this issue for patients and their families," Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator, said in a statement. "For some time, Medicare beneficiaries have had access to reasonable and necessary imaging technologies, which have revolutionized how well doctors and patients diagnose and treat a host of diseases. But by adding information to the website today, we can help patients and their families to understand the risks associated with these technologies and talk with their doctors about which hospitals are most likely to help patients reduce those risks."

On average, 1 in 3 Medicare beneficiaries receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their lower back when they complain of pain, rather than trying more recommended, and potentially safer treatment first, such as physical therapy.

In addition to outpatient care measures, CMS has updated data for outcomes of inpatient hospital care. The new information on includes updates on new thirty-day mortality rates and thirty-day readmissions rates for inpatients admitted with heart attack, heart failure, and pneumonia. These rates encompass three full years of claims data (from July 1, 2006, to June 30, 2009).

According to HHS, the Hospital Compare tool will show whether a hospital's mortality or readmissions rate is "Better than," "No different from," or "Worse than" the U.S. national rate. This information includes each hospital's risk-standardized mortality rate (RSMR), an estimate of the rate's certainty (also known as the interval estimate), and the number of eligible cases for each hospital.

Officials at HHS also note that by posting hospital RSMRs, interval estimates, and the number of eligible cases, CMS is giving consumers additional insight into the performance of their local hospitals in hopes that this will prompt all hospitals to work toward achieving the level of the top-performing hospitals in the country.

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