At least 32 newspapers jumped on today's news that the US Department of Health and Human Services has published comparative statistics on quality of care in hospitals across the nation. The actual data was given to hospitals, but the consumer can select hospitals and find out how they compare in treating certain conditions. At the moment, you can see some things about treatment of heart attack, pneumonia and prevention of surgical infection. Go here to check out the process: http://www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov/Hospital/Search/SearchCriteria.asp?dest=NAV|Home|Search|SearchCriteria#TabTop
I found some surprises. Around Detroit, the hospitals I picked were all above average (sounds like Lake Wobegone), but comparing the details to find out which are better and which are best offered some surprises.
The osteopathic hospital that word-of-mouth says is poor actually had better scores than University of Michigan and Henry Ford Hospital on many measures. Now, U of M and HF might have determined that these actions (how long antibiotics were continued after surgery, for example) were not indicated in the patients surveyed. Not surprisingly, Detroit Receiving, where most indigent patients end up, fared relatively lower on most of the scales. Still and all, Detroit is a pretty good place to get sick in.
HHS says it will collect and publish more data, and perhaps someday make a point of showing which hospitals are dangerous to your health, but this is a start.