"Charting Hospital Performance" by Lynn Nicholas

This article is more than 13 years old.

Today, the federal government launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness among consumers about just how easy it is to view information about how hospitals perform in certain clinical and patient satisfaction measures. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) purchased ads in 55 newspapers across the nation (including The Boston Globe) displaying how local hospitals performed in two measurement sets (how often antibiotics were administered before surgery and how often call bells were answered promptly).

Hospitals across Massachusetts applaud this move toward transparency and have spent a tremendous amount of time and energy leading these types of efforts on a local level. Today’s publicity push by CMS offers an important opportunity to consider two points.

First, one hundred percent of hospitals in Massachusetts participate in an important transparency and public reporting initiative that goes even further than CMS’ laudable goals. Our website offers consumers a ‘one-stop shopping’ location to view both the federal data, plus some voluntarily added measures including how often falls, falls with injury, and bedsores occur in our hospitals. We believe that transparency and openness breed new discussions and efforts focused on best practices to improve quality.

Second, this ad comes on the eve of an important vote in our legislature on the topic of introducing government-mandated nurse staffing ratios in our hospitals. This is a terrible concept put forward by a single nurses union and will add hundreds of millions of dollars in health costs – with no evidence that it will improve patient care. As a matter of fact, the ads published around the nation today show that Massachusetts hospitals rank significantly better than hospitals in California (the only state in the nation with mandated ratios) in the measure that looks at how quickly patient needs were answered — a credit to nurses and clinical staff across the Commonwealth.

We hope the Massachusetts Legislature recognizes that government-mandated ratios are not the answer to improved patient care.

Lynn Nicholas, FACHE
President & CEO
Massachusetts Hospital Association

This program aired on May 21, 2008. The audio for this program is not available.