Sixteen South Florida hospitals were named to a list of the top U.S. medical centers on Wednesday, as rated by the nation's leading inspection and accreditation organization.
The hospitals made the list because they followed 22 recommended methods for preventing complications, infections, and errors for at least 95 percent of patients last year, said officials of The Joint Commission.
Hospital rating systems have mushroomed in the past decade, but the new list of 405 hospitals - 14 percent of the nation's total - gives consumers an easier way to shop for good healthcare. The nonprofit agency's opinion carries weight because it inspects hospitals and decides if they qualify to treat Medicare payments. It's the first time the group has rated hospitals.
The new rating helps consumers by analyzing detailed, hard-to-decipher data about which hospitals follow the best medical practices and boiling it down to a list of top performers, consumer advocates said.
South Florida hospitals fared far well overall in the rating. Sixteen of 49 in the region made the list, compared to 51 of more than 300 statewide.
The hospitals were judged on how often they gave recommended medical attention to patients hospitalized for heart attacks, heart failure, surgery, pneumonia, and childhood asthma. The steps have been identified as likely to help prevent complications.
Among the steps they are supposed to take: Give aspirin to heart patients upon arrival, give clot-buster drugs for heart attacks, give flu shots and antibiotics for pneumonia, and give surgical patients drugs that prevent infections and blood clots.
The Joint Commission said more than 90 percent of hospitals now follow such steps, sharply higher than when the first widely publicized rating came out in 2002.
The comparisons make hospitals improve through peer pressure, said Adam Higman, a manager at the hospital adviser firm Soyring Consulting in St. Petersburg.
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