Comparing Hospitals: New tool allows patients to shop around - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Comparing Hospitals: New tool allows patients to shop around

MADISON (WKOW) -- The federal government this week released death rate data for every hospital in the US.  27 News checked the statistics for Madison's three hospitals and found their performance is statistically similar.

The data includes death rates for heart attacks, heart failure, and pneumonia.

Meriter, UW and St. Mary's all scored within the national average and similarly to each other for all three categories.

You can see the statistics at www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/hospital/mortalitytool/index.asp/

The industry welcomes the new reporting.

"Transparency in hospital performance is a good thing for consumers," said Dana Richardson of the WI Hospital Assoc.

But many hospitals still don't report infection rates. That measures the number of patients who get infections after surgery or other procedures. In Madison, only Meriter reports their - 1.5 percent in 2007. The others won't say.

"We're struggling to find good standards for use across all hospitals, and also to define what is an infection," said Richardson.

Some hospitals define infections differently and keep track of them in different ways.

Richardson said she welcomes releasing infection rate data at some point, if hospitals nationwide can develop protocols and recordkeeping systems that are consistent.

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