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David Mittleman
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"Best Hospitals" Thrive Off of Reputations, Not Patient Safety

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When you think of the "best hospitals" in the country, the first that come to mind probably include the Mayo Clinic or Massachusetts General Hospital. But you might be suprised to find out that these "best hospitals" are nowhere on the list of Consumer Report's best hospitals for patient safety. In fact, according to a recent book titled Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer, its actually the best known hospitals that have the worst track records for patient safety.

But patients don't choose their hospitals based off of their own whims. Instead, many patients choose hospitals based on their doctor's recommendation, which can be a risky bet if they recommend the supposed "best hospitals". True, Mayo Clinic had exceptionally good scores on patient safety, but other well-known hospitals like New York Presbyterian and UCLA did worse on average when it came to patient complications. The Consumer Report's list is based purely off of patient safety data including mortality, infections, and readmission rates instead of the typical reputation survey that U.S. World and Reports conducts. This provides patients with a better knowledge of the type of care they will receive at a "top hospital" and this is critically important particularly when you're talking about life-saving procedures like heart transplants.

Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine is Making Us Sicker and Poorer by Shannon Brownlee not only delves into the mystique surrounding hopsital reputations, but also provides a comprehensive overview of the amount of treatments that patients receive that they don't actually need. Brownlee ultimately shows that having the proper information about healthcare options (especially vital information such as patient safety) could go a long way towards helping patients make the best decisions. Then, the hospitals that provide the most effective care would be rewarded, rather than the hospitals with poor patient care that merely thrive off of their reputation.