Some hospitals are better than others. But for many years all patients had to go on was reputation, doctors' advice, word of mouth and advertising. Today, California follows some other states, the federal government and a few private groups in offering a window on hospital quality. The study by state officials of hospital death rates shows that for eight common conditions and procedures -- including stroke, hip fracture and brain surgery -- the rates vary widely.
The study looked at mortality rates for 2007 and 2006. It found that, in 2007, 25 hospitals had death rates that were significantly better than the state average on at least one indicator, while 94 were significantly worse in at least one area. In 2006, 33 hospitals had mortality rates that were significantly better on at least one indicator, while 98 hospitals rated significantly worse on at least one indicator.
Officials plan to post the study today and said they hoped it would help improve care. "It is our hope that the timely release of these new indicators will encourage California's hospitals to examine their practices and improve their quality of care and help inform consumers and patients about their healthcare choices," said David Carlisle, director of the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.