Consumer Reports ranks hospitals: Best, worst surgical facilities

LOS ANGELES

If you're scheduling a surgery, Consumer Reports says the hospital you choose can make a big difference. The group analyzed three years of Medicare billing records from nearly 2,500 hospitals.

The analysis covered 27 kinds of common surgeries, including hip and knee replacement, back surgery, and surgery to clear blocked arteries.

"We rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications," said Dr. John Santa with Consumer Reports.

Consumer Reports ranked on a five-step scale using better to worse as measures. Los Angeles-area hospitals that ranked near the top include Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine, Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica and UC Irvine Healthcare in Orange.

Ranked on the bottom were Citrus Valley Medical Center-Inter Community Campus in Covina, Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena and Northridge Hospital Medical Center-Roscoe Boulevard Campus in Northridge.

Critics of the survey say rating hospitals based on length of stay almost penalizes teaching hospitals that often take tough and complicated cases. But Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.

"We know the ratings aren't a perfect measurement, but we think they're an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice," said Santa.

If you think you've been harmed in the hospital, Consumer Reports advises contacting your local or state health department. If you're on Medicare, get in touch with your state's Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.

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