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Invited Critique
May 16, 2011

Choosing “The Best”: Comment on “Evaluating Popular Media and Internet-Based Hospital Quality Ratings for Cancer Surgery”

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Section of Hepatic, Pancreatic, and Biliary Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri.

Arch Surg. 2011;146(5):604-605. doi:10.1001/archsurg.2011.97

How frightening and perplexing it must be to learn of a cancer diagnosis and not know where to go for care. How do our patients, friends, and family members assure themselves that they are committing their lives to a high-quality surgeon and hospital? A physician colleague just emailed one of us for a recommendation for care of a family member with a complex cancer problem. Some things we did not do: (1) go to www.healthgrades.com or (2) drop down to the magazine section in our hospital gift shop. But we did know where the patient lived and had first-hand knowledge of the quality of the hospital and the surgeon that we recommended. That insider information is both priceless and not easily available to the general public. Had our patient's family member checked on the US News and World Report site, he would have found the name of the hospital we recommended and 4 others in the tri-state area where he lives and may have been reassured. A sixth hospital was listed in HealthGrades and none of the other 5 was mentioned in that grading system.

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