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Best Hospitals for Surgery

Jacqueline Birnbaum says her father had high hopes when he went to the hospital for a hip replacement.

Jacqueline says, "He thought it was going to improve his quality of life and make it easier for him to get around, and make it more comfortable for him."

Birnbaum says the surgery appeared to go well. But afterward, her father developed an infection and died without ever leaving the hospital.

If you're scheduling a surgery, Consumer Reports says the hospital you choose can make a big difference. That after analyzing three years of Medicare billing records from nearly 2,500 hospitals with the help of the health care consulting firm M-P-A.

The analysis covered 27 kinds of common surgeries, including hip and knee replacement, back surgery, and surgery to clear blocked arteries.

Dr. John Santa with Consumer Reports explains, "We rated hospitals based on the percent of Medicare patients undergoing surgery who died or were hospitalized longer than expected, which could indicate complications."

Enloe Medical Center in Chico, California, is one of the highest-rated hospitals. Administrators say its attention to detail has led to dramatic improvements in recent years.

Dr. Marcia Nelson with Enloe Medical Center says, "Our patients are having fewer infections, and they're having a better experience."

Consumer Reports hopes its ratings will motivate hospitals to set high standards and empower patients.

Dr. Santa points out, "We know the ratings aren't a perfect measurement, but we think they're an important first step in giving patients the information they need to make an informed choice."

The hospital where Marvin Birnbaum went earned a low overall surgery rating from Consumer Reports. Jacqueline Birnbaum says she wishes her dad could have had access to this type of information.

Consumer Reports is hoping hospitals will make more information available to patients to help them make informed decisions.

If you think you've been harmed in the hospital, Consumer Reports advises, contacting your local or state health department. If you're on Medicare, get in touch with your state's Medicare Quality Improvement Organization.


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