Hospital Compare website does not help patients find hospitals with better outcomes for high-risk surgery

The Hospital Compare website does not help patients find hospitals with better outcomes for high-risk surgery, according to a study in the Archives of Surgery.

Researchers examined data from the Hospital Compare for patients who had any of six “high-risk” surgeries, including some open-heart procedures in 2005 and 2006. The researchers looked at the rates for thirty-day postoperative mortality rate, venous thromboembolism, and surgical site infection.

The study found that some hospitals followed certain safety measures about half of the time, while others did it more than 90% of the time. However, the higher compliance rate didn’t always mean that a hospital had a lower rate of post-operative deaths. 

The researchers conclude that there is a need to measure higher leverage process measures and devote greater attention to profiling hospitals based on outcomes to improve public reporting.

(Sources: Kaiser Daily Health Policy Project, http://kaiserhealthnews.org, October 19, 2010; Archives of Surgery, http://archsurg.ama-assn.org, October, 2010)