Canadian Hospital Ratings: Halifax hospitals rank well

by John McKiggan

CBC-TV’s The Fifth Estate is spearheading an initiative to rate and rank Canadian hospitals.

As a medical malpractice lawyer I applaud any effort that makes health care in Canada more transparent. Peter Drucker is famous for saying: “What gets measured gets managed”. So I have to think that using public data to educate the public about hospital performance and asking the public for feedback about hospitals can’t help but have a positive influence in the care that patients receive.

The CBC collected data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) and ranked the hospitals using certain criteria.

The hospitals are then awarded letter grades. The specific areas ranked by CBC include:

1. Mortality after major surgery;
2. Nursing-sensitive adverse events, surgical patients;
3. Nursing-sensitive adverse events, medical patients;
4. Readmission after surgery;
5. Readmission after medical treatment.

Of the over-200 hospitals assessed: 20 hospitals received A averages, 140 received B’s, 34 got a C-rating, while 8 hospitals received D’s, the lowest grade given. The 8 hospitals with the lowest grades were in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Patient Feedback

The other part of the initiative involves patient feedback using this website.

The questionnaire asks users to rate their hospital experience from 1-star (meaning poor) to 5-stars (meaning excellent). The questions ask you to assess whether:

1. You were treated with courtesy and respect?
2. Care was explained to you in a way you could understand?
3. You were attended to in a timely manner?
4. You were treated in a clean environment?
5. You would recommend the hospital to family and friends?

The idea is that the rating site will serve a number of purposes. Patients will be able to check the site prior to choosing which hospital to attend and will be able to make informed decisions as a result – for example: a patient requiring prompt treatment can avoid the hospital ranked poorly for timeliness. Additionally, the primary aim of the website is to encourage the hospitals to pay close attention to the feedback and use it to improve the quality of their services.

Admittedly the sample size for most hospitals is small right now. but if the website catches on I think this could prove to be a very valuable tool.

Halifax Hospital Ratings

Of course since I’m in Halifax, the first thing I did was check out the ratings for the two hospitals here.

IWK Health Centre – The CBC did not receive enough information to fully rate the IWK but received A+’s in 3 of the 5 ranked criteria. Also, patient feedback was provided by 48 people and it was generally very positive with an average of 4 stars.

QEII Health Sciences Centre – Given an overall grade of B. The QEII received B’s for the first 4 areas with an A+ in the ‘re-admission’ criteria. Patient feedback was provided by 87 people with an average of 3 stars.

Right idea

If we can use websites to rank our movies (, our professors (, our restaurants (, and pretty much every other service available, why shouldn’t we use it to rate our healthcare?

If constructive feedback is provided by patients, we can only hope hospital administrators will take note.

By the way, you can leave me some feedback by leaving a comment.

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