Third, as I heard from Jesse Pines, MD, an emergency room doctor and researcher who directs the center for healthcare quality at George Washington University, an awful lot of hospitals, many of them with very heavy emergency room traffic, submitted "too few cases" to "reliably tell how well a hospital is performing."
"The thing that was surprising for me with some of this stuff is that a lot of these hospitals have tens of thousands of (ED) visits in a year, and it seems remarkable that some of them wouldn't have enough patients to report on," Pines says.
"It's one thing for a patient to have something like a heart attack, where people go directly to the cath lab. But for ED patients, there should be plenty to report on. It seems that either they don't want accurate numbers to be up there or…actually I can't come up with another reason," he says.
Pines is also a spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. And as such, he has drilled down extensively into the idea that emergency room care at each hospital will improve when it is measured and compared with other emergency rooms in its community, state, and across the country. In general, ACEP is pleased that CMS has reached this point, he says.
For example, even in the data set now up on Hospital Compare, one can discern enormous variation in times for each measure, and make decisions accordingly.