Rankings Show Wide Variations in End-of-Life Hospital Care
Hospitals in the Bay Area offer less aggressive care to Medicare beneficiaries in the last two years of life than facilities in Southern California, a measure that could be beneficial for patients, according to a new ranking system by Consumer Reports, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The ratings, based on Medicare data, rated 210 California hospitals on how aggressively they treat their patients. The ratings take into account:
- How long patients stay in the hospital;
- How long they are in intensive care units; and
- The number of physician visits.
According to the Chronicle, the rankings support findings from health experts that show efficient use of funds and services can lead to better patient outcomes.
Bay Area hospitals spent less per patient than hospitals in the Los Angeles area.
John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said one possible explanation of that difference could be that hospitals in Southern California have more services and medical equipment available than Northern California facilities do.
San Francisco hospitals scored an average of 63% on the conservative-aggressive scale, compared with 97% for the eight hospitals in the Los Angeles area.
Sutter Health hospitals in the Bay Area had many of the lowest scores, or the most conservative facilities, the Chronicle reports.
Sutter officials said the rankings show that Sutter facilities use Medicare funds efficiently (Colliver, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/30).
The most conservative care statewide is provided at facilities in Santa Barbara, according to the rankings (Dahlberg, Sacramento Bee, 5/30).
Various rating services use a number of criteria to evaluate hospitals, including government standards, consumer satisfaction surveys and other quality measures.
A Pew Internet and American Life survey released this month found that 1% of Californians polled said online hospital ratings influenced their health care decisions (San Francisco Chronicle, 5/30).
However, Maribeth Shannon of the California HealthCare Foundation said that regardless of consumers' use of ratings, making such information available to the public can encourage low-ranked facilities to improve (Sacramento Bee, 5/30).
CHCF publishes California Healthline.