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Can a hospital's rating show likelihood of medical malpractice?

While it is always best to have something done right the first time, in some situations residents of Chicago can accept an error. For example, if one buys a toaster only to find out it does not work as advertised, it may be inconvenient but it can be taken back and replaced with a working model.

However, one area where no one should have to accept mistakes is medical care. Medical negligence can cause additional pain and suffering, and unfortunately, in some cases it can take a life. For that reason, many people in Cook County may rely on a hospital's rating when choosing where to seek care. Unfortunately, depending on which agency is performing the review, one might receive a very different opinion on the quality of a particular medical facility.

A number of different groups publish ratings to help readers make informed decisions, including the Leapfrog Group, Healthgrades, Joint Commission, U.S. News and World Report and even Consumer Reports. In addition, the state of Illinois performs their own "report card" review of hospitals in the state. However, each group uses a different methodology during the review, which can lead to great disparity in a facility's ultimate grade.

For example, while one hospital was highly touted by two services - receiving an "A" and a rating as one of the best 50 hospitals in the country - another review saw it score low in safety due to a number of apparent issues. In the end, the ratings may end up leading to more questions than providing answers.

Of course, the truth for many patients is that their choice is limited by a variety of factors - perhaps where a particular type of insurance is accepted, or in the event of an emergency, where the closest hospital is located. Regardless of the hospital, every patient should be able to expect competent care that avoids mistakes, and no rating can reflect what may or may not happen in a particular situation with a unique patient.

Still, while patients may be well advised to do their homework before seeking care, in situations where a mistake is made, it is important that those suffering understand that a medical malpractice claim can serve to protect their rights and help recover compensation to lessen the effects of negligent care.

Source: NBC News, "Hospital report cards can be flawed, confusing, experts say," Jordan Rau, March 18, 2013

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