Given the importance of choosing a high-quality hospital, we have provided important information to help you make a good selection.

Below is an overview, with a brief description of the information included in our ratings of hospitals. The section “Hospital Ratings Data Details,” listed among the articles in this section of our website, provides further discussion of these data and its strengths and weaknesses.

We include in our Ratings Tables nearly every short-term hospital for acute inpatient care in the U.S. except Veterans and military hospitals.

Highlights

  • Our checkmark for quality. Using data shown on our ratings tables, we calculated an overall hospital score for each hospital. Those that got our top scores got checkmarks. Our overall scores reflect the specific weighting and cutoffs we applied to the measures. You might weight the measures differently and single out different hospitals.
  • Adjusted death rates for all selected cases. For relatively high-risk cases, these are the percentages of each hospital’s patients (for a three-year period for medical cases and a four-year period for surgical cases) who died in the hospital or within 90 days of the time they were discharged from the hospital. These rates are adjusted—to the extent we were able—for differences in how sick and frail each hospital’s patients were.
  • How often patients recommended hospital. These ratings come from federally-sponsored surveys of patients who had recent hospital stays. We show the percentage of patients who reported they would “definitely” recommend the hospital to a friend.
  • Doctors’ ratings. These are the percentages of physicians who, in surveys we conducted in areas where we publish Consumers’ Consumers' Checkbook magazine, rated each hospital “very good” or “excellent” for “surgery on an adult in cases where the risk of complications is high.” We also show the number of doctors who rated each hospital on this question.
  • The Leapfrog Group’s Safety Grade. These grades come from The Leapfrog Group, an organization that tracks and encourages hospitals’ efforts to improve patient safety. Leapfrog calculates its Safety Grade for more than 2,500 hospitals in the U.S.; scores shown on our ratings table were those reported by Leapfrog in April 2018. The grades used in Leapfrog’s program are derived from expert analysis of publicly available data using national evidence-based measures of patient safety. The Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade program rates hospitals on their overall performance in keeping patients safe from preventable harm and medical errors. For more information, visit HospitalSafetyGrade.org.
  • Major medical school affiliation. This is simply one indicator of the extent of each hospital’s teaching programs, as reported by Medicare.

For each of these measures, we indicate with green type the most favorable scores and with red type the least favorable scores.

Death Rates Tab

  • Adjusted death rates for all selected cases. For relatively high-risk cases, these are the percentages of each hospital’s patients (for a three-year period for medical cases and a four-year period for surgical cases) who died in the hospital or within 90 days of the time they were discharged from the hospital. These rates are adjusted—to the extent we were able—for differences in how sick and frail each hospital’s patients were.
  • Adjusted death rates for groups of cases. For three groups of cases—(1) all medical and surgical cases, (2) all medical cases, and (3) all surgical cases—we report adjusted death rates. We adjusted the death rates to take into account how old and sick each hospital’s mix of patients was.
  • Adjusted adverse outcome rates in surgical cases. These are similar to the death rates except that in addition to deaths in hospital or within 90 days of discharge, adverse outcomes include prolonged lengths of stay (which are an indicator that complications occurred in the hospital), and readmissions to a hospital within 90 days of discharge from the initial stay.

For each of these measures, we identify death and adverse outcome rates where, based on the underlying data, we have a high degree of confidence that the hospital performance is different from the national average and that the difference from average is not just the result of luck:

  • Green type means the hospital did better than average given its mix of cases and the national average death rate for such cases, and that there is less than one chance in 40 that this better-than-average result is just the result of good luck.
  • Red type means the hospital did worse than average given its mix of cases and the national average death rate for such cases, and that there is less than one chance in 40 that this worse-than-average result is just the result of bad luck.

Death & Adverse Outcome Rates for Specific Case Types

Within our section on hospital death rates, you can check how well each hospital performed for specific medical and surgical case types.

Our ratings tables report whether adjusted death rates were better or worse than average for each of various selected types of medical cases. The types of medical cases include heart attack, pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and various others. Instead of reporting adjusted death rates, we simply indicate whether the hospital’s actual death rate for each category of cases was statistically significantly better or worse than average, given the hospital’s mix of patients. We score the hospitals as follows:

  • 5 stars means the hospital did better than average given its mix of cases and that there’s less than one chance in 40 that this better-than-average experience is just the result of good luck.
  • 4 star means the hospital did better than average given its mix of cases and that there’s less than one chance in 20 (but more than one chance in 40) that this better-than-average experience is just the result of good luck.
  • 3 stars means the hospital was so close to the average given its mix of cases that there’s more than one chance in 10 that its difference from the average is just a result of good or bad luck.
  • 2 stars means the hospital did worse than average given its mix of cases and that there’s less than one chance in 20 (but more than one chance in 40) that this worse-than-average experience is just the result of bad luck.
  • 1 star means the hospital did worse than average given its mix of cases and that there’s less than one chance in 40 that this worse-than-average experience is just the result of bad luck.
  • “Insufficient data” means the hospital’s number of cases or predicted number of deaths was too small to report results.

We also report adverse outcome rates for all selected types of surgical cases combined and, for individual types of cases, whether such rates were better or worse than average. These are similar to the death rate information except that adverse outcomes include deaths in hospital or within 90 days of discharge, prolonged lengths of stay (which are an indicator that complications occurred in the hospital), and readmissions to a hospital within 90 days of discharge from the initial stay.

Ratings from Patients Tab

These ratings come from federally sponsored surveys of patients who had had recent hospital stays and include patients’ ratings of hospitals on several questions:

  • Patients Would Definitely Recommend. The percentage of patients who said they “would definitely recommend” the hospital they had recently used.
  • Overall Rating. Percent of patients who gave hospital an overall rating of 9 or 10 (on a 0 to 10 scale).
  • Communication with Doctors. Percent of patients who reported doctors at hospital “always” communicated well.
  • Communication with Nurses. Percent of patients who reported nurses at hospital “always” communicated well.
  • Receiving Help Quickly. Percent of patients who reported they “always” received help as quickly as they wanted it.
  • Medicines Always Explained. Percent of patients who reported that hospital staff “always” explained about medicines before giving them.
  • Pain Was Well Controlled. Percent of patients who reported that their pain was “always” well controlled.
  • Rooms Were Quiet. Percent of patients who reported that the area around their room was “always” quiet at night.
  • Rooms Were Clean. Percent of patients who reported that their room and bathroom were “always” clean.
  • Given Information About Recovery at Home. Percent of patients who reported that they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home.
  • For each of these measures, we indicate with green type the most favorable scores and with red type the least favorable scores. In addition, we give our checkmark to hospitals that rated high on an overall score we calculated across a range of measures.

Doctors’ Ratings Tab

  • Ratings for High-Risk Adult Surgery. These are the percentages of physicians who, in surveys we conducted in areas where we publish Consumers’ Consumers' Checkbook magazine, rated each hospital “very good” or “excellent” for “surgery on an adult in cases where the risk of complications is high.” We also show the number of doctors who rated each hospital on this question.
  • Desirability scores from doctors. These are the results when we asked each surveyed physician to name the two hospitals, from a list in the physician’s metropolitan area, that he or she would consider “most desirable” and the two he or she would consider “least desirable” for several different types of health care needs, from “uncomplicated delivery of a baby” to “medical care for an adult in complex cases.” We report for each hospital for each type of case the percentage of its mentions that were favorable: that is, the number of times physicians mentioned it as desirable as a percentage of the total times physicians mentioned it as either desirable or undesirable.
  • For each of these measures, we indicate with green type the most favorable scores and with red type the least favorable scores. In addition, we give our checkmark to hospitals that rated high on an overall score we calculated across a range of measures.

Additional details on the data shown on our ratings tables, and a discussion on how they should be interpreted, is available under “Details on Our Data” section.