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Conflicting data found on hospital evaluations

September 18, 2007|From Reuters

CHICAGO — Patients facing surgery who try to check out the quality of hospitals beforehand by doing Internet searches often find conflicting and incomplete information posted, according to a study published Monday.

The report was based on searches done a year ago on six websites that offer comparisons of hospital quality, said Dr. Michael Leonardi and colleagues at UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine.

They sought information on how the hospitals were rated for laparoscopic gall bladder removal, hernia repair and colon removal -- all relatively common procedures.

The review found "suboptimal measures of quality and inconsistent results." For one thing, the study said, no site had real-time data and most of the information found was a year old.

There also were conflicts. One hospital rated best for colon removal by two sites was ranked worst by a third, said the report in the Archives of Surgery.

Three of the websites were privately operated by companies whose names were not disclosed by the study. The other three were public or nonprofit, including one offered by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

"For accessibility and data transparency, the government and nonprofit websites were best," Leonardi and colleagues wrote.

"For appropriateness, the proprietary websites were best, comparing multiple surgical procedures using a combination of process, structure and outcome measures. However, none of these sites explicitly defined terms such as complications."

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