How safe – or dangerous – is your hospital? Consumer Reports releases hospital safety rankings

by Jay Pate

It is extremely difficult to find useful information about how safe—or how dangerous—a hospital can be. However, you need to know that many experts feel our hospitals are a lot more dangerous than they should be. “Hospitals haven’t given safety the attention it deserves,” says Peter Pronovost, M.D., senior vice president for patient safety and quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “Medical harm is probably one of the three leading causes of death in the U.S., but the government doesn’t adequately track it as it does deaths from automobiles, plane crashes, and cancer. It’s appalling.”

Infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical harm contribute to the deaths of 180,000 hospital patients a year, according to projections based on a 2010 report from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Seeking to address the lack of available information for patients who want to learn about the safety of hospitals in their communities, Consumer Reports has for the first time rated hospitals for safety. Using the most current data available, their analysis includes information from government and independent sources on 1,159 hospitals in 44 states. They interviewed patients, physicians, hospital administrators, and safety experts; reviewed medical literature; and looked at hospital inspections and investigations.

Some of the findings from Consumer Reports include:

  • Bad things happen in all hospitals, but they happen more frequently in certain facilities
  • Even high-scoring hospitals can do better
  • Some well-known hospitals have less-than-outstanding safety scores

The best safety score was at Billings Clinic in Billings, Montana and the lowest was at Sacred Heart Hospital in Chicago. The top 10 hospitals are located in 10 different states, in both big cities and small towns. To find out how your hospital did, check out the complete analysis and ratings at Consumer Reports:


by Jay Pate

John “Jay” Pate is a licensed attorney who focuses his practice on complex tort litigation involving catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death, medical malpractice, and product liability cases.