How Does Your Hospital Rate?
Medicare's nationwide data on hospital performance are online
By Cybele Weisser

(MONEY Magazine) – There are a lot of tools for comparing hospitals on the World Wide Web. Companies (such as HealthGrades) offer ratings for a fee. And now the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting into the act with a new free website ( where you can see info on how hospitals treat three major conditions: heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia.

CMS says nearly every major hospital in the country was surveyed. Hospitals were asked how often they had given heart and pneumonia patients each of 17 preferred treatments. (Not every hospital answered for every category.) "Those items are proxies for quality," says Bill Erwin, a spokesman for the Alliance for Health Reform, a nonprofit consumer group. When choosing between different hospitals, a resident of Cincinnati, for example, might like to know that Christ Hospital beat crosstown rival University Hospital on 15 of the measures.

The website has flaws. If you don't read the lengthy explanations, many of the scoring measures are confusing. You won't learn anything about the care you might receive for, say, gallbladder surgery. CMS says it will upgrade the site later this year with data from a patient-satisfaction survey. --CYBELE WEISSER