Medicare has begun publishing patient safety ratings for thousands of hospitals as the first step toward paying less to institutions with high rates of surgical complications, infections, mishaps and potentially avoidable deaths.
The new data, available starting last week on Medicare's Hospital Compare website, evaluate hospitals on how often their patients suffer complications  such as a collapsed lung, a blood clot after surgery or an accidental cut or tear during treatment. The measures also include specific death rates for patients who had breathing problems after surgery, had an operation to repair a weakness in the abdominal aorta or had a treatable complication after an operation.
In addition, Hospital Compare is evaluating rates of some specific medical errors , such as giving patients the wrong type of blood, leaving surgical implements in patients' bodies during surgery and falls that occur during their stay.
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