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Quality Rankings Help You Choose the Care That’s Right for You

When you’re buying a new car, you might check Consumer Reports to find out how the model you like measures up to the competition. But how do you assess the quality of medical care when selecting which hospital is right for you? It may not seem so easy for the average patient.

Fortunately there are organizations that help: The Joint Commission, the University HealthSystem Consortium (UHC) and U.S.News & World Report are a few of the key organizations that assess medical care through either accreditation or a ranking system.

Survey Says: Rush Makes the Grade

Just as the Department of Public Health inspects restaurants, the Joint Commission visits hospitals to make sure they are upholding appropriate standards of care.

Last year, the Joint Commission instituted a new method of surveying patient care: following patients from the moment they enter the hospital, through treatment to when they leave, by reviewing medical charts for appropriate documentation and by interviewing hospital staff.

At their most recent visit to Rush University Medical Center in September 2006, the Joint Commission surveyors re-accredited the Medical Center for the next three years. Further, they reported on Rush’s outstanding nurses, the clear involvement of its medical staff in safety and quality issues, the cleanliness of the Medical Center, and the coordination of services across different clinical areas.

A Review By Peers

UHC is an alliance of nearly 90 percent of the nation’s nonprofit academic medical centers. Based on patient outcomes data that measure patient safety, mortality, efficiency and equity of care, UHC’s rankings are entirely objective.

In the most recent rankings, Rush was ranked in the top five academic medical centers in the nation. And for the third year in a row, Rush received a perfect score in the category “equity of care.” This ranking measures the extent to which patients receive the same quality of treatment and have the same outcomes regardless of their gender, race or socioeconomic status.

Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

When U.S.News & World Report released its annual “Best Hospitals” issue this July, only 173 medical centers out of the 5,462 hospitals evaluated made the cut in one or more specialties. Rush was ranked in 11 out of 16 — more specialties than any other hospital in Illinois. And in three specialties — orthopedics, kidney diseases and geriatrics — Rush programs were rated the highest in Illinois.

Hospitals are ranked by specialty areas, not specific procedures, so that patients can choose hospitals based on their expertise in treating a variety of illnesses within that area.

What does this mean to you, the patient? It means, for example, if your heart disease worsens to the point that a transplant is needed, a hospital ranked within the top 50 best hospitals in the country for heart and heart surgery should be able to handle the full continuum of heart disease care, not just one or two procedures.

U.S.News & World Report rankings are based on three equally weighted elements: reputation, mortality rate and care-related factors — such as patient volume, availability of nurses and advanced technology.

Read about other honors and awards that Rush University Medical Center in Chicago has received, visit the Honors and Recognition home page.


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