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September 16, 2016. Category: Medical Malpractice

New Hospital Star Ratings Raise Concerns Over the State of Healthcare

Star ratings are a common system for ranking everything from restaurants to car repair shops. In this day and age, it seems that everyone has an opinion that can be boiled down from 1-5, and everyone wants to let you know what they think.

In some ways, this can be useful. After all, who hasn’t looked online to see what people are saying about the latest hot restaurant or that pricey kitchen appliance you’ve been saving up to buy? It’s commonplace to see star ratings pretty much everywhere you look. But would you expect to see them when you’re having a medical emergency?

As it turns out, you’ll be seeing star ratings on hospitals very soon.

At the end of the July, the Obama administration announced that it would go through with publishing star ratings to sum up the quality of 3,662 hospitals in the U.S. After months of delays, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services were given the approval to release this data in the hopes that it will be helpful to consumers.

The star rankings are based on a number of factors, such as mortality rates, the number of re-admissions, patient opinions, infection rates, frequency of medical scans and patient reviews. Medicare officials believe that, “the star ratings provide people a broader picture,” which allows patients to be more aware of the medical care they might receive at a given hospital.  

A recent article explains that in Florida, hospitals scored below average three times more than they scored above average. In short, 61 hospitals would have gotten a D and 13 would have gotten an F. These are never encouraging grades, but are especially disheartening when we stop to remember that this isn’t just a grade -- this is the current healthcare situation.

Rick Pollack, president of the American Hospital Association explains, “We are especially troubled that the current ratings scheme unfairly penalizes teaching hospitals and those serving higher numbers of the poor.” On average, teaching hospitals and hospitals serving low-income patients scored lower than others, a criticism that should not be quickly overlooked.

It’s More Than a Rating Problem

As Tampa medical malpractice lawyers, we have seen our fair share of low quality healthcare --more often than we would ever want to see. However, we wonder if this star rating system illuminates a problem that is larger than the star ratings themselves? Perhaps, instead of criticizing this new rating system, we should take it as an invitation to address the issue of quality healthcare, both in the state and in the country.

After all, the fact that so many Florida hospitals essentially failed the review is more than just a smudge on our reputation, it reflects a service that is not meeting the needs of patients in our state, and across the nation. Shouldn’t that be the larger concern here?

It is our hope that these ratings will inspire broad-sweeping changes to occur, so that all hospitals can have the services and personnel available to care for the patients that come through the door. And should you ever experience medical malpractice at an under-performing hospital, we are here to help.

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