Headline: "Deaths plague even top hospitals"I’m about to board a plane at 5 a.m. so this is a quick preliminary note.

One of the key skills an engaged, informed patient needs is how to find good quality care. Today USA Today reports that Medicare has just released information that I think we’ve had a right to know for ages: which hospitals have the best and worst success rates for three common conditions – heart attack, pneumonia and congestive heart failure. They report both the death rate and the rate of failed discharges, aka readmissions.

Importantly, the article wisely spotlights that there are big gaps between perceived quality (reputation) and actual odds of death.

Extract:

More than 120 hospitals given top marks by patients for providing excellent care also have a darker distinction: high death rates for heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia, a USA TODAY analysis of new Medicare data has found.

“This is a very important finding,” says Donald Berwick, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, adding that though patient-survey data offer critical insights into how it feels to be a patient at different hospitals, patients’ perceptions don’t tell the whole story.

I couldn’t agree more.

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