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Quality

Information on hospital sites questioned

Hospital comparison Web sites often provide consumers with conflicting, incomplete and outdated information, according to a study recently published in the Archives of Surgery, Reuters reports.

The study, conducted by Michael Leonardi and colleagues at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California-Los Angeles, examined six Web sites provided by:

• CMS;
• Joint Commission;
• Leapfrog Group; and
• Three unnamed organizations that operate proprietary sites.

The researchers found “suboptimal measures of quality and inconsistent results” when seeking information on how hospitals were rated for three common procedures – laparoscopic gall bladder removal, hernia repair and colon removal.

None of the Web sites had real-time data, and most of the information was a year old, according to the study. In addition, some of the Web sites provided conflicting information. For example, one hospital was rated best for colon removal by two sites but was ranked worst by a third site, according to the report.

“For accessibility and data transparency, the government and [not-for-profit] Web sites were best,” Leonardi and his colleagues wrote, adding, “For appropriateness, the proprietary Web sites were best, comparing multiple surgical procedures using a combination of process, structure and outcome measures.”

The researchers concluded, however, that “none of these sites explicitly defined terms such as complications.”

 

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