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How Do Hospitals Measure Up?

Time:2018-02-17 07:38Turbochargers information Click:

Performance Hospitals Dartmo

To learn how good a baseball team is, there are mounds of statistics to check. Any major company publishes detailed annual reports.

But when it comes to a hospital, where life and death decisions are made, where is that data?

"The public would be surprised to learn that most hospitals really don't know how they're doing in clinical outcomes and care," said Dr. Donald Berwick of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. "They have minimal amounts of information."

That's because few hospitals collect the data -- or release them to the public.

"They're worried about lawsuits, about being held accountable for things they can't control," Berwick said. "They're worried about embarrassment."

Gauging Performance

Without knowing how a hospital measures up -- for example, in death rates and infection rates for specific procedures -- patients have a harder time making informed decisions about where to be treated. And just as important, hospitals don't know where they need to improve.

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire decided to pioneer a radically new approach: full disclosure.

"The trust you develop with your patients is the most important thing over the long term," said Paul Gardent of Dartmouth-Hitchcock. "We also think people understand their hospitals and medical centers are not perfect."

The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Web site shows that 93 percent of its patients with early stage breast cancer are alive at five years -- above the 87 percent national average. But it also shows that "discharge instructions" -- details about follow-up treatments -- were given to only 56 percent of its heart patients, and that a pneumonia vaccine was given to only 35 percent of eligible patients.

"By publicly reporting what we're doing, it does highlight where we need to improve and keeps our eye on the ball," Gardent said.

This "full disclosure" even includes the cost estimates of various procedures and results of patient satisfaction surveys. And early feedback suggests giving patients more data gives them more confidence in the hospital.

ABC News' John McKenzie reported this story for "World News Tonight"

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