Washington Hospital Quality
A service of the Washington State Hospital Association

We Are Counting On Your Safety

Washington state hospitals are committed to providing high quality health care, and that includes making sure you have a safe stay. Our hospitals are working individually and collectively to identify problems and make improvements so every patient receives high-quality care.

Health care providers of all kinds support the gathering and reporting of patient safety data. This information is critical to improving patient care. It is WSHA’s position that making quality data available and useful to the public leads to more informed patients and more confidence in the health care system.

Learn more about hospital committment to transparency and the website by watching this video:

Launching WSHA's New Hospital Quality Website from Washington State Hospital Associ on Vimeo.


Where does the data on this website come from?

Most hospitals are required by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid to collect quality data (visit their page to read more). Because they have set out clear definitions and guidelines, all hospitals report the data in the same way, making it easy to compare between hospitals and even between states.

What does “quality” mean, when you’re talking about health care?

When we look at health care quality, we’re basically asking: Are caregivers doing the right things at the right times, and are patients better off?

For example, the right things to do are: checking a patient’s blood sugar; testing for pneumonia before prescribing antibiotics, removing a catheter as soon as it’s safe to do so.

And you can tell that patients are better off when: they’re not readmitted back to the hospital after discharge; they don’t get infections after surgery; their pain is controlled and they leave the hospital satisfied.

What about patient privacy, and differences between patients?

The data that is published on this site does not include any private health information or any information that could be used to identify an individual patient.

In some ways, that is a limitation on the data: it does not reflect the “acuity” of the patients—that is, how sick they are and how much attention they need. And for a variety of reasons, some hospitals have sicker patients than other hospitals. This may affect some of their scores, which is why no one should make decisions about health care providers based on averages alone.

So what do these numbers really tell us about how safe a hospital is?

Just like your weight and height can’t tell the whole story of your health, a single statistic or score cannot tell the whole patient safety story of a hospital. Why? Because communities are different, patients are different, and hospitals care for different kinds of patients for different reasons. All those factors can affect a hospital’s performance.

That said, the data is still useful to both patients and hospitals because it can identify problems and successes. For example, a hospital with low readmission rates probably has a better process than a similar hospital with extremely high readmission rates. Another example is infections: all hospitals are working to ensure that none of their patients gets a healthcare-acquired infection. While we’re not to zero yet, many hospitals are getting close.

Can I use this data to compare hospitals?

Generally yes. This information is gathered from all hospitals in the same way, following the guidelines set up by CMS.

However, patients and families should not rely on this data alone to decide where to get care, because other outside factors can affect averages and rates. Using the information on this site as a starting point, consumers can also discuss their concerns and questions with their physicians and other caregivers.

What about rural hospitals?

Rural hospitals are not required to submit this data to the federal government, but here in Washington, rural hospitals will often voluntarily submit their information. All hospitals can be quality hospitals, and should be held to the same standards. The challenge is that with so few patients, data collection can be difficult and sometimes the statistics get skewed due to the low numbers.

What can patients do to make sure that they are safe while in the hospital?

We can all make real improvements to our health when we work with doctors, nurses, technicians, and pharmacists, both inside and outside the hospital. Visit the Patient Resources page for more.

Do hospitals work to improve their scores?

Yes, absolutely. No one likes to make mistakes, but everyone agrees that gathering and analyzing information helps to improve our systems and protect patients from human error. The information on this site is analyzed by hospitals and WSHA staff to identify patterns, understand variances, and make recommendations to improve care. Hospitals may compete for patients, but they collaborate on ways to improve patient safety.

Click here to read more

How often is this data updated?

Different measures are on different schedules; some data is updated quarterly, other sets are updated annually.

Why is there only hospital data in this database? What about clinics?

At this point in time, the Hospital Compare data only includes hospital data. The good news is that similar information for outpatient services for outpatient services and individual physicians is being collected—it’s just not publically available yet.

What’s coming next?

This site will continue to improve as we add new information and new functionality. Over the next several years, you’ll see more quality data from more kinds of facilities, more educational materials, and more site functionality.

What do you want to see? Let us know!

Although much of the information on this website was already public, the site itself was re-launched in fall of 2014 to make it easier to understand. We will continue to make changes to the site and would appreciate your feedback.

  • Did you find the information you were looking for?
  • What other information would be helpful?
  • What would make this website easier to use?
  • Do you have any other concerns or questions?

If you have any questions or comments about the site, please contact us.

To provide detailed feedback, please fill our survey.