U.S. News hospital rankings to give patient safety more weight

By Healthcare Facilities Today
January 17, 2014

U.S. News will make several changes to its Best Hospitals rankings methodology in 2014. Most significantly, in 12 specialties, the weight assigned to patient safety will double to 10 percent of each hospital's overall score. The weight given to hospital reputation will drop from 32.5 percent to 27.5 percent, accordion to an article on the U.S. News website.

This shift reflects the ongoing evolution of the Best Hospitals rankings from their 1990 origin as survey-driven lists toward increasingly objective assessments. This movement is made possible by the growing availability of publicly reported, rigorously studied hospital quality metrics, according to the article.

"No metric is flawless, however, and our decision to increase the importance of specific patient safety measures may have its critics. They will receive a fair hearing. Accepting thoughtful and constructive criticism is part of our DNA at U.S. News," the article said.

U.S. News' decision stems from a multi-year evaluation of the Patient Safety Indicators compiled and published by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ), the article said. The agency has defined 17 PSIs that quantify various incidents and errors that put hospital patients at risk, from falls to surgical incisions that reopen after patients leave the OR. U.S. News used six of the PSIs in the currently posted 2013-14 rankings to create a Patient Safety Score, which accounts for 5 percent of a hospital's overall score.

The recent analysis led to a recommendation to include two of the 11 excluded PSIs. The two new entries are AHRQ PSI 03 and PSI 08, which respectively capture incidence of skin breakdown (decubitus ulcer) and postoperative hip fracture. 

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