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Texas Vital Signs: Hospitals forced to release data

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Vital Signs

After decades of secrecy, Texas hospitals have been forced to release data that reveal death rates and other information about patient care. But the value of that data is in dispute.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Aug. 7, 2002

Administrators at Huguley Memorial Medical Center were concerned last year that some heart-attack patients weren't getting the best care.

A key problem: Physicians could not immediately open blocked arteries because the hospital was not equipped to perform emergency bypasses. So the Fort Worth hospital invested $8 million in a heart-surgery center, which is expected to open this summer.

But the hospital's patients never knew of the administrators' concerns. Typically, discussions about a hospital's weaknesses take place behind closed doors.

That culture of secrecy is about to change.

For the first time, the state will publish consumer-friendly hospital report cards - a project seven years in the making. In October, the Texas Health Care Information Council plans to release death rates as well as information on volume, or the number of times surgeries and other procedures are performed at hospitals.

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