Medicare-Medicaid agency’s annual ratings of 94 Ky. hospitals gives the lowest score to six; only one got the highest ranking

Screenshot of Medicare’s Hospital Compare website

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has released its Overall Hospital Star Ratings for 2019, which offer a snapshot of the quality of the hospitals in your area, and across the nation.

Of the 94 Kentucky hospitals that CMS rated, Saint Joseph Martin, a 25-bed critical-access hospital in Floyd County, was the only one to get a five-star rating, which is the highest. (KentuckyOne Health sold the hospital in 2018 to Appalachian Regional Healthcare.)

Six Kentucky hospitals got the minimum rating of one star, including those at the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville. Also on the one-star list were Highlands Regional Medical Center in Prestonsburg, Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital in Somerset, Pikeville Medical Center, and The Medical Center at Bowling Green.

Most of the 94 rated hospitals fell in the middle, with 21 getting four stars; 32 getting three stars; and 22 getting two stars. Click here for the results of Kentucky hospitals in Hospital Compare.

Hospital Compare rates more than 4,000 Medicare-certified hospitals, and provides stars for those that provide adequate information. Each rating is based on as many as 57 quality measures.

The report and the Hospital Compare website focus on seven areas: a list of general information, such as the hospital’s ability to receive and track lab results; a survey of patients’ experiences; timely and effective care; complications and deaths; unplanned hospital visits; use of medical imaging; and payment for, and value of, care. The report has a star ranking for each of these categories.

In addition to Hospital Compare, consumers can also check ratings by U.S. News & World Report, which were released in August; and the recently released safety ratings by the Leapfrog Group.

A report may offer a higher score than another for the same hospital, largely because they measure different things, Jayne O’Donnell reports for USA Todayin an article headlined, “Deadly error, infections: When hospital ratings don’t align, what should patients believe?”

For example, Leapfrog’s ratings focus on preventable safety issues. Hospital Compare includes a wide range of safety and quality measures, but has little overlap with U.S. News & World Report.

Another resource is Kaiser Health News‘ list of hospitals that are penalized by Medicare for high rates of readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions.

What if you have no choice but to go to a “C-grade hospital or worse”? Walecia Konrad of CBS News put that question to Leapfrog Director Erica Mobley, who offered a list of suggestions:

  • Get an advocate and make sure they check on you frequently.
  • Speak up! If it seems different or unusual, say something.
  • Ask everyone to wash their hands — even the nurses, doctors and other caregivers.
  • Bring in a list of your medications and make sure it is entered into your record.
  • Avoid falls. Ask for help to the bathroom and make sure the path to the bathroom is clear.
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