Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital earned five stars from the federal government on Thursday — the highest possible score, according to a new ratings system based on patient satisfaction surveys.
Trident Medical Center in North Charleston earned two stars, the lowest rating among all Charleston-area hospitals.
Medicare’s Hospital Compare website shows Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital, Roper Hospital, Medical University Hospital and East Cooper Medical Center each earned four stars.
The Hospital Compare website isn’t new, nor are the surveys, but the federal government has never before used a five-star scale to grade hospitals on patient satisfaction.
“Star ratings will make it easier for consumers to use the information on the Hospital Compare website and spotlight excellence in health care quality,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, the acting principal deputy administrator for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. “These star ratings also encourage hospitals and clinicians to strive to continuously improve the patient experience and quality of care delivered to all patients.”
But Medicare also warned consumers that the star ratings should not be evaluated in isolation.
“A 1-star rating does not mean that you will receive poor care from a hospital,” the federal government explained online. “We suggest that you use the star rating along with other quality information when making decisions about choosing a hospital.”
These ratings are determined based on patient responses to a variety of questions ranging from “How often did nurses treat you with courtesy and respect?” to “How often were your room and bathroom kept clean?” The star ratings don’t consider readmission rates, medical complications, patient volume or patient deaths.
“While the CMS star-rating tool system will provide a visual marker for the consumer, it may oversimplify the complex methodology used by CMS for its ... survey,” said Trident Health spokeswoman Pam Brock. “We do know that more people are choosing and trusting Trident facilities for their health care services, as evidenced by volume growth.”
For example, she said, Trident Medical Center delivers more babies than any hospital in the Lowcountry.
Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital, by comparison, is much less crowded. According to 2013 occupancy data, Mount Pleasant Hospital was only 16 percent full, compared with Trident Medical Center’s 65 percent occupancy rate.
Mount Pleasant Hospital is also much newer, which may contribute to higher patient satisfaction scores.
“The staff at Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital is making sure patients are actively engaged in their own care,” said Tavia Buck, the hospital’s vice president and chief nursing officer. “Our ... scores demonstrate why we have seen consistent growth since our opening on November 1, 2010.”