Feds give most Michigan hospitals mediocre scores

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Most Michigan hospitals earned less-than-stellar scores on a new five-star rating scale released Wednesday over objections from the U.S. hospital industry.

Four hospitals outside of Metro Detroit earned five stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the federal regulating agency for hospitals. A majority of hospitals statewide and across the country received scores of two or three stars, including some of the nation’s best known hospitals.

Holland Community Hospital, Oaklawn Hospital in Marshall and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Chelsea are among just 102 hospitals nationwide to earn the highest scores possible.

University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor earned three stars. Four major Detroit hospitals received just one star: Detroit Receiving Hospital, DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital, Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and Hurley Medical Center in Flint.

The federal agency long has published hospital ratings on specific quality measures, such as the number of patients with surgical complications or hospital-acquired infections. The ratings indicate whether a hospital’s performance is better, worse or the same as the national average. Critics have said that system doesn’t provide enough detail about the performance of each individual hospital, and have argued for greater transparency.

Hospitals get a single composite grade on the new scale, which many health care providers say is misleading. The rollout was postponed for several month to address the concerns of health care providers who argue it’s impossible to quantify all hospitals by a single measure.

Dr. Michelle Schreiber, senior vice president and chief quality officer of Henry Ford Health System, said the system penalized large, urban safety-net and teaching hospitals that serve the nation’s sickest and most vulnerable patients.

“Nothing is more important to all of us at Henry Ford Health System than the quality and safety of patients we take care of every day,” Schreiber said. “We own our data, we’re improving it and we’ll continue to improve it.

“The fact that the star ratings don’t take into consideration socioeconomic and demographic factors really sets us up,” Schreiber said, noting that major teaching hospitals in Miami, Chicago, Cleveland, Washington, D.C., and other large cities got similar scores.

“It has to do with the issue of poverty, homelessness, not having appropriate food. If they get discharged and they have no home, or they can’t afford their medications, or don’t eat properly, chances are they’re going to come back to the hospital,” she added. “These are sicker patients who inherently don’t have the kind of resources that our affluent patients have.”