Health Information Management

News: Hospital ranking report draws criticism, response

CDI Strategies, August 29, 2013

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U.S. News & World Report published two reports last month providing insight into the performance of a variety of hospitals nationwide.

Its Best Hospitals 2013-2014 report ranks 147 hospitals in one or more of 16 adult specialties. Its Best Children’s Hospitals 2013-2014 report ranks 87 pediatric hospitals in at least one of 10 pediatric specialties.

At the center of these reports lies the coded data—some of which caused controversy in the wake of the reports’ release. Avery Comarow, of U.S. News & World Report, reported that this year’s rankings “stirred up more than the usual intensity of the expected annual scrutiny” and that some feel as though the results are “premised on faulty assumptions.”

U.S. News & World Report published an FAQ as well as a 130-page methodology report to better explain how it surveys and ranks each hospital, admitting that coding errors may be present in the data.

However, when addressing whether its methodology is fundamentally flawed, U.S. News & World Report states the following:

No conceivable methodology is immune from limitations of design and available data. We try to remedy weaknesses in our methodology by soliciting candid input from the hospital community, using the best metrics and data available to us and making changes when there's a strong case for doing so.

U.S. News & World Report provides the example of how coded data can affect present on admission (POA) reporting, a new element of the 2013-2014 reports. It states:

Not all hospitals are diligent about identifying POA cases and coding them appropriately. The playing field, with regard to this measure, will not be level until they do … Does this represent a flaw in the methodology? We don't think so. No measure is perfect. Compliance with any measure will never reach 100 percent. Moreover, the fact of the change is likely to make some hospitals pay more attention to POA identification and coding, improving the quality of the data beyond their use in the rankings.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on

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