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Performance monitoring

Florida web site discloses data on individual hospitals

Florida is the first state in the U.S. to use a public Web site (www.floridacomparecare.gov) to disclose data on infections, complications and prices for each of its 207 hospitals, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel (www.sun-sentinel.com) reports.

The Florida Compare Care Web site lists each hospital’s rate of medical problems in seven categories, and it discloses each hospital’s death rates in 10 areas, such as heart attack, stroke, pneumonia and heart surgery. Hospitals were rated in each category, and their scores then were adjusted based on the severity of their patients’ illnesses in order not to penalize hospitals that treat sicker patients, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

The state Legislature and Gov. Jeb Bush (R) in 2004 passed a law mandating the Web site. “It gives consumers some information that’s useful,” said Alan Levine, secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (www.fdhc.state.fl.us) which runs the Web site. The hospital industry had opposed publicly disclosing the data.

Healthcare specialists warn consumers not to use the site to compare one hospital’s rate with another because the information “is not precise enough to allow apples-to-apples comparisons,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.

However, some proponents believe the Web site could drive improvements in hospitals. “All the hospitals are aware that people are watching now,” said Dr. Paul Barach, former director of the University of Miami (www.miami.edu) Patient Safety Center and a member of a state advisory panel on hospital-based infections. “They will want to look good,” he said.

 

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