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Have you ever tried to use Medicare data to research a hospital? If so, I bet you’ve been disappointed.

Let’s say you live in Las Vegas and you have heart problems. There are three hospitals nearby. You’d like to know the answer to a simple question. “If I ever have a heart attack where should I tell the ambulance to take me?”

Medicare’s Web site that holds this information is called Hospital Compare. If you visit and search for Las Vegas heart attack care, above is what you’ll find.

Is that helpful?

As you can see the three hospitals within your search are all rated “No Different than U.S. National Rate.” In other words, they are all average. Do the same search in every other city that has more than one hospital and you’re likely to find the same thing. Or you might find that there was not even enough data to calculate an average result.

If you want to find a hospital that’s exceptional, there’s no way to search for it. You can also can’t search for a dud.

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