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Dr. John SantaOur latest hospital safety ratings were recently published in the May issue of Consumer Reports. Once again we found substantial differences in the performance of more than 2500 hospitals across the country. I am sure every hospital would say safety is a top priority. But a much smaller portion is actually performing to that goal.

Since the first publication of our safety score in 2012, we have made multiple upgrades and improvements to our approach. All of our hospital infection data, for example, now comes from the National Healthcare Safety Network database maintained by the CDC and distributed by CMS. We are able to include data for three types of hospital-acquired infections-central line infections, surgical site infections and bladder catheter infections. We have also added performance data for medical and surgical mortality in hospitals. Medical mortality focuses on death from three conditions -- heart attack, pneumonia and congestive heart failure. Surgical mortality focuses on those patients having inpatient surgery who have a major complication (like a clot to the lung, or kidney failure) and die.

These changes are a good example of the "journey" that good comparisons require. In any scientific undertaking, the best efforts constantly look for the best data. And any effort involving consumers needs to be constantly asking them for feedback about what information will be most helpful in making decisions. Safety information is our highest priority, and we hope to constantly improve the information we have.

Here are additional links to more of our ratings:
Survive your hospital stay

Hospital Ratings Page


John Santa, M.D

Director, Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center   

April 2014 Newsletter 
In this issue:
What's New
Campaign Updates
Partner Spotlight
Best Buy Drugs Update
Support Our Work
In the News
Quick Links

What's New

Reaching Out to Employers 


Among our most promising partners are Human Resource executives who care about 

helping their employees make smart healthcare decisions.


That's why Tara Montgomery, Senior Director of Health Impact, addressed 250 HR 

managers and executives at the annual Health & Benefits Leadership Conference in March.


Her message: With all the changes in the healthcare landscape, it's more important now 

than ever to provide the tools and information that will help employees become effective health consumers.


Our partner network helps us reach more than 100 million consumers each year with free, 

objective, accessible resources. She urged HR executives to join that network, and to 

consider adding ratings from the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center to their decision 



An easy place to start: The employer toolkit for Choosing Wisely materials. 


Campaign Updates
Choosing Wisely Canada Launches 


Two years after the launch of the groundbreaking Choosing Wisely campaign, its
influence has formally gone international.


The Canadian Medical Association and nine of the country's physician specialty
societies have launched Choosing Wisely Canada, with the unveiling of those societies'
own lists of five tests, treatments or procedures for which there is strong evidence of
overuse, waste, or even possible harm to patients.


As with the US-based campaign, the goal is to begin conversations between patients
and physicians. Plain-language versions of some items on the lists are available for
patient use; we developed them along with the Canadian specialty societies. More 

Canadian specialty societies are expected to add lists to the campaign later this

For more information and resources, visit the website.



Partner Spotlight 

Two new partners have joined our Health Impact campaigns

Greater Detroit Area Health Council

GDAHC is the premier healthcare coalition that develops and evaluates innovative solutions to improve the health and wellbeing of people living in Southeast Michigan through multi-sector collaboration. As a healthcare leader that is recognized nationally and regionally, GDAHC 

represents everyone who gets care, gives care and pays for care. 

VNA Community Healthcare

VNA Community Healthcare is a non-profit, community based home healthcare agency 

based in Guilford and Hamden Connecticut. Beyond nursing; physical, occupational and 

speech therapies; mental health; and maternal child health, it offers free or low cost wellness, 

health and family caregiver support programs. 



Best Buy Drugs Update

New analysis of three Alzheimer's drugs   


Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia, is a terrible thief. Over time 
it robs people of their ability to remember, learn, and reason, cutting them off from friends 
and family and eventually even their own sense of self. The companies that sell Alzheimer's 
drugs peddle hope to people looking for a way to ease the pain and frustration. But a hard 
look through the research paints a far more disappointing picture. Read more here.
To clearly spell out the risks and benefits of these medications, Best Buy Drugs 
commissioned Informulary, a company founded by Steven Woloshin M.D., professor of 
medicine at the Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice at the Geisel School of Medicine 
at Dartmouth and another Dartmouth professor, Lisa Schwartz, M.D., to review the evidence 
for three drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat mild-to-moderate 
Alzheimer's. Their analysis is summarized in Drug Facts Boxes, which are similar to the 
Nutrition Facts found on packaged foods.
Check out the Drug Facts Boxes for: Aricept, Exelon patch, and Razadyne.
For more in-depth analysis and information, read Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs report 
on drugs used to treat Alzheimer's. 
And, consumers might be interested in our article How to improve your memory now. 

Support Our Work

Consumer Education and Outreach 


As you know, Consumer Reports is the only major independent consumer organization 
working for transparency in medical costs, effectiveness, and safety. And because we're 
free of any commercial influence, we always call it like we see it - never pulling any punches.

Last year, our work on health care helped consumers identify and choose high-quality, 
appropriate, cost-effective preventative care, screening/testing, medicines, treatments, 
hospitals, and health insurance. We create hundreds of patient-friendly resources 
addressing medical costs, effectiveness, and safety. But there is much more work to 
be done and we can't do it without your help.

Knowing that you're a fan of Consumer Reports Health, we'd like to invite you to make 
a charitable contribution. Your contribution will help us remain a leading voice in championing consumers' access to sustainable, safe, high-quality, and affordable health care and physical, mental, and community well being. We hope you'll find it's a cause worthy of your support.

Please consider a contribution to Consumer Reports' health-care initiative. 
You can easily donate online today or email us at [email protected] if 
you have questions. 


In the News

Recent Coverage of Our Work   


A December Best Buy Drugs article How to build stronger bones was published in the  

Washington Post as 7 steps to keeping your bones strong and healthy as you grow older

Consumer Reports: Top-selling prescription drug overused,

Putting the cap on medication costs,   


The Choosing Wisely grantee, Texas Medical Association, was in the Star-Telegram 

newspaper (Dallas-Fort Worth area) on March 31st with an excellent article about 

Choosing Wisely called Wasteful Medical Tests and Interventions that May Surprise You.

HealthInsight Utah, another Choosing Wisely grantee, held a town hall on March 27 

with a big media splash. Some highlights include an Op-Ed in Dessert News called 

"Is More Always Better? Not in Health Care" and an article in the Salt Lake Tribune 

called "Utahns Warned: Unneeded Medical Tests Do More Harm than Good."

One of our consumer partners, AARP, published a fantastic cover story on Choosing Wisely

in their March bulletin. It's called "Doctors Say: Skip These Tests."

Maine Public Broadcasting Network aired a great segment on Choosing Wisely, 

aimed at increasing awareness, showcasing a patient's voice, and highlighting the 

great work that Choosing Wisely grantee Maine Quality Counts is doing.   


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