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Bob Moos: Medicare’s Hospital Compare website rates your local hospital care

The Times - 1/9/2018

Have you wondered how your area hospitals stack up in terms of the quality of care they provide?

Emergencies obviously call for rushing to the nearest hospital. But when you have time to plan, it is worth doing some research and finding out which hospitals do the best job of caring for their patients.

Medicare's Hospital Compare website ? at medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html ? has made it easier for you to check that. The site has overall star ratings to help you better understand which hospitals are top performers, which are average and which need improvement. The ratings range from one to five stars, with five being the best.

The Hospital Compare site enjoys a solid reputation with the public, showing how thousands of hospitals scored on various indicators of quality care. You can compare hospitals on the basis of such factors as clinical outcomes, customer satisfaction and patient safety.

The just-updated overall star ratings offer a snapshot of particular hospitals' quality of care, by summing up individual measures of hospital performance posted on the website. The ratings reflect such factors as how often patients get infections after surgery, how long patients must wait in the emergency department before seeing a doctor or nurse, and how likely patients are to get readmitted to the hospital after a heart attack.

The stars take into account the mix of patients at a hospital, so that those facilities with a high percentage of sicker patients aren't rated lower than those that handle more run-of-the-mill cases.

Medicare assigned stars to 3,692 Medicare-certified hospitals nationwide. Another 887 couldn't be included, mostly because they didn't have enough data to properly evaluate them. They may have been too new or too small and, therefore, had too few cases on which to base ratings. The ratings will be updated regularly on the website, as the government continues to collect the most recent data.

Nationally, 260 hospitals received five stars, 753 rated four stars, 1,187 scored three stars, 1,155 received two stars, and 337 had just one star.

The 56 rated Arkansas hospitals scored an average of 2.8 stars for overall quality of care. Two hospitals ? Arkansas Surgical Hospital in North Little Rock and Crossridge Community Hospital in Wynne - received five stars, 16 rated four stars, 15 scored three stars, 13 received two stars, and 10 had one star.

Here are the scores for all area hospitals:

Jacksonville ? North Metro Medical Center - 1 star

Little Rock ? Arkansas Heart Hospital - 4 stars

Little Rock ? Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock - 1 star

Little Rock ? St. Vincent Infirmary - 1 star

Little Rock - UAMS Medical Center - 1 star

North Little Rock ? Arkansas Surgical Hospital ? 5 stars

North Little Rock ? Baptist Health Medical Center North Little Rock ? 2 stars

Other Arkansas hospitals' star ratings can be found at medicare.gov/hospitalcompare/search.html.

By using star ratings on its Compare websites, Medicare is trying to help you make more informed decisions about your health care. The public reporting also gives low-performing providers a compelling incentive to improve their practices and procedures and, hence, their scores.

Nursing Home Compare, Home Health Compare and the Medicare Plan Finder also use star ratings to help you check out health care providers and insurers and choose one with quality in mind.

Of course, as informative as these websites can be, they can't tell the whole story about where to go for care. They're simply a screening tool that lets you focus on a few providers that interest you.

Visit with your doctor about the best hospital for you. Research shows that some hospitals do better than others at treating certain conditions. And talk to family members and friends about what they liked or disliked about their recent hospital stays and which facilities they'd recommend.

Medicare also recently updated its "Guide to Choosing a Hospital," which includes a checklist of questions to ask your doctor and explains how to find the hospital that's the right fit for you. A free copy can be downloaded at medicare.gov or requested by calling Medicare at 1-800-633-4227.

Once you've done your homework, you'll have peace of mind knowing you've made an informed choice about your care. Then you can concentrate on the rest of your preparations for your hospital stay.

Bob Moos is the Southwest regional public affairs officer for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services

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Here's the complete list of the 56 rated Arkansas hospitals; 21 other hospitals were not rated:

Arkadelphia ? Baptist Health Medical Center - Arkadelphia ? 3 stars

Batesville ? White River Medical Center ? 4 stars

Benton ? Saline Memorial Hospital - 2 stars

Berryville ? Mercy Hospital Berryville - 4 stars

Blytheville ? Great River Medical Center ? 1 star

Camden ? Ouachita County Medical Center - 3 stars

Clarksville ? Johnson Regional Medical Center - 3 stars

Clinton ? Ozark Health ? 4 stars

Conway ? Conway Regional Medical Center - 2 stars

Crossett ? Ashley County Medical Center - 3 stars

Danville ? Chambers Memorial Hospital - 4 stars

Dardanelle ? River Valley Medical Center ? 2 stars

El Dorado ? Medical Center South Arkansas - 2 stars

Fayetteville ? Washington Regional Medical Center ? 2 stars

Forrest City ? Forrest City Medical Center - 2 stars

Fort Smith ? Mercy Hospital Fort Smith - 4 stars

Fort Smith ? Sparks Regional Medical Center - 1 star

Gravette ? Ozarks Community Hospital of Gravette ? 4 stars

Harrison ? North Arkansas Regional Medical Center - 4 stars

Heber Springs ? Baptist Health Medical Center Heber Springs ? 4 stars

Helena ? Helena Regional Medical Center ? 2 stars

Hope ? Wadley Regional Medical Center at Hope - 3 stars

Hot Springs ? National Park Medical Center - 2 stars

Hot Springs ? St. Vincent Hospital ? 1 star

Jacksonville ? North Metro Medical Center - 1 star

Jonesboro - NEA Baptist Memorial Hospital - 3 stars

Jonesboro ? St. Bernard's Medical Center - 1 star

Lake Village ? Chicot Memorial Medical Center - 2 stars

Little Rock ? Arkansas Heart Hospital - 4 stars

Little Rock ? Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock - 1 star

Little Rock ? St. Vincent Infirmary - 1 star

Little Rock - UAMS Medical Center - 1 star

Magnolia ? Magnolia Hospital - 3 stars

Malvern ? Baptist Health Medical Center-Hot Springs County - 4 stars

Mena ? Mena Regional Health System ? 3 stars

Monticello ? Drew Memorial Hospital ? 3 stars

Mountain Home ? Baxter Regional Medical Center ? 2 stars

Mountain View ? Stone County Medical Center ? 4 stars

Nashville ? Howard Memorial Hospital ? 4 stars

North Little Rock ? Arkansas Surgical Hospital ? 5 stars

North Little Rock ? Baptist Health Medical Center North Little Rock ? 2 stars

Paragould ? Arkansas Methodist Medical Center ? 1 star

Piggott ? Piggott Community Hospital ? 3 stars

Pine Bluff ? Jefferson Regional Medical Center ? 1 star

Pocahontas ? Five Rivers Medical Center ? 4 stars

Rogers ? Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas ? 4 stars

Russellville ? St. Mary's Regional Medical Center ? 2 stars

Salem ? Fulton County Hospital ? 3 stars

Searcy ? White County Medical Center ? 3 stars

Sherwood ? St. Vincent Medical Center/North ? 2 stars

Siloam Springs ? Siloam Springs Regional Hospital ? 3 stars

Springdale ? Northwest Medical Center-Springdale ? 3 stars

Stuttgart ? Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart ? 4 stars

Van Buren ? Sparks Medical Center ? Van Buren ? 3 stars

Warren ? Bradley County Medical Center ? 4 stars

Wynne ? Crossridge Community Hospital ? 5 stars

 
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