June 25, 2024

Study highlights CMS hospital star rating limitations

Editor's Note

CMS hospital star ratings may not be a reliable tool for assessing surgical quality, according to a study published June 18 in JAMA Surgery.

Researchers acknowledge that higher ratings are generally associated with improved postoperative outcomes, including fewer complications and lower 30-day mortality rates. However, as reported by MedPage Today, “there was wide variation in these outcomes when comparing the top and bottom 5% of hospitalseven within star-ratings groups.” As an example, the outlet cites nearly two-fold variations in mortality for each group:

  • 1 star: 1.91% (3.6%-12%)
  • 2 star: 1.86% (2.8%-16.2%)
  • 3 star: 1.84% (2.9%-12.3%)
  • 4 star: 1.76% (2.9%-11.5%)
  • 5 star: 1.79% (2.4%-9.1%)

Introduced in 2016, the CMS star rating system aims to provide a public database of hospital quality. Despite 2021 revisions, these findings indicate the system may not be the most effective tool to help patients choose providers.

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