The government’s Hospital Care website has made it easier to find your chance for survival. For the first time, Americans are allowed to see specific death rates for heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia from individual hospitals around the country. Along with providing the death rates for heart attack and heart failure, the website also gives the death rates from pneumonia over the past two years, something no one has done before. These numbers may then be compared to the national mortality rates, which are 16.1% for heart attacks, 11.1% for heart failure and 11.4% for pneumonia. In the past, the information provided to the public only disclosed whether specific hospitals were operating at, above or below the national average. In addition to recently adding the pneumonia mortality rates, the website also added information on the quality of each individual hospital care received by children. The new data combines information on process of care, patient experience and patient satisfaction.
Hospital Care is operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an agency of the United States Department of Human Health and Services. It is ideally supposed to benefit hospitals as well as patients. Many hope the release of information will prompt hospitals to be more cautious and excel in the care they give patients, especially since the new mortality outcome measure are “risk-adjusted”, meaning patients’ previous health conditions are taken into account. They think it will give hospitals feedback in what areas they need to improve. Some experts are skeptical, however, stating the data is not beneficial to individuals because it may be misleading and is more for the hospital’s benefit. They do not want critically ill individuals to not pick a hospital because it has a bad “rating” they do, however, agree that it is a step in the right direction.