AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Breaking: Grady, other area hospitals lag on quality care, new report says

UPDATE: Read here about what the ratings won't tell you.

No hospital in the Atlanta area has received the federal government's new top, 5-star rating for quality of care, and several major medical centers received only 1 star, according to a new grading system released today by federal officials.

Emory University Hospital on Clifton Road and Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville received 4 stars, the best among area hospitals. Grady Memorial Hospital, Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center and Piedmont Henry Hospital received only 1 star. The VA Medical Center was not rated. Other area hospitals received 2 or 3 stars.

The Hospital Care website shows that Grady's and Wellstar Atlanta's ratings reflected that they were below the national average on safety of care, readmissions, patient experience and timelines of care. Piedmont Henry was below the national average on mortality, effectiveness of care, readmissions, patient experience and timeliness of care.

Emory University Hospital exceeded the national average on four key measures. It lagged on only one: timeliness of care. Gwinnett Medical Center topped the national average on three measures, but fell below on timeliness of care and patient experience.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the new rating system will help patients and their families more easily compare hospital quality. It was to be released this spring, but under pressure from the hospital industry and Congress, the Obama administration delayed release. Hospitals complained that the system oversimplified extremely complex issues. Modern Healthcare reported that the American Hospital Association said it was disappointed by the release.

The Georgia Hospital Association said it was concerned that the new star rating system creates more confusion for the health consumer. In a prepared statement, Earl V. Rogers, CEO of the association, called the system a "one-size-fits-all approach, which unfairly penalizes teaching hospitals and those hospitals that serve a disproportionate share of uninsured patients."

Two Georgia hospitals outside metro Atlanta received 5 stars: Gordon Hospital in Calhoun and Northside Medical in Columbus.

Check out more hospital quality ratings for rates of infection, hip and knee replacement surgery, labor and delivery services and ER wait times by clicking here.




Reader Comments ...

About the Author

Lois Norder is Senior Editor for Investigations in the newsroom at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.