Terms Explained

Many of the measures on this site use complicated or more advanced medical or Medicare-specific terms. Using explanations from (if not otherwise indicated), this glossary clarifies particular conditions and measures described on this site.

Average Time Spent in Emergency Department
This measure records how much time patients spend in the emergency department of a given hospital before being discharged. This gives insight for patients as to which hospitals may require longer wait time before being seen, and in situations of time-sensitive care, allow them to optimize which provider they choose for service.

CABG Surgery
CABG is an acronym for "Coronary artery bypass graft surgery". When a patient has a blockage (or a partial blockage) in an artery, this surgery may be necessary to redirect blood flow through your heart. (Source: Mayo Clinic).

Clostridium Difficile (C. Diff)
Clostridium difficile (C.diff.) intestinal infections cause diarrhea and colon inflammation. C.diff often occurs after a patient has taken antibiotics, and is more prevalent among patients 65 years and older. (Source: CDC)

COPD Patients
COPD, or Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is not a specific disease, rather a reference to a group of diseases which can make it challenging for people to breathe. Often caused by airflow blockages or breathing-related challenges, COPD was the third leading cause of death among Americans in 2014. (Source: CDC)

Death Rate
The death rate visualization displays the measure of serious complications that patients experienced during a hospital stay or after having certain inpatient surgeries. Hospitals can prevent these complications when they prioritize scientific research and providing the best possible care.

Effective Care
These measures show how often or how quickly hospitals provide care that research shows gets the best results for patients with certain conditions, and how hospitals use outpatient medical imaging tests (like CT scans and MRIs). This information can help you compare which hospitals give recommended care most often as part of the overall care they provide to patients.

Healthcare Associated Infections
Healthcare-associated infections, or HAIs, are infections that people get while they're getting treatment for another condition in a healthcare setting. HAIs can occur in all settings of care, including:

  • Acute care hospitals
  • Long term acute care hospitals
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Surgical centers
  • Cancer hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facilities

Many of these infections can be prevented through the use of proper procedures and precautions.

Linear Mean Score
Patients have an opportunity to review the overall care received at a hospital using the HCAHPS survey. These surveys have a wide variety of measures, including: overall hospital rating, would recommend this hospital, cleanliness, quietness, nurse communication, doctor communication, and communication about medications - just to name a few. To create the linear mean score, CMS takes all of the data and converts it into a linear mean score for each measure. This linear mean score will summarize all of the responses in the survey items included in that measure. On a more technical level, each of the five sets of response items for each measure in the survey is converted to a number between zero and 100 and then converted into a linear mean score. The linear mean captures the full distribution responses to a given survey item

MRSA Bacteremia
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) is a type of bacteria resistant to many antibiotics. Most of the time, MRSA can cause skin infections, but sometimes it can present itself in the form of pneumonia. If left untreated, MRSA creates a risk for the body to go into sepsis, which is an extreme and possibly life-threatening reaction to an infection. (Source: CDC)

The relatively unique specialties are determined using revealed comparative advantage (RCA) calculations. The RCA calculation considers the relationship between a particular specialty’s share of all specialties at a given hospital versus the prevalence of a given specialty across all specialties overall (across all hospitals).

The readmission measures are estimates of the rate of unplanned readmission to a hospital in the 30 days after being discharged. There are many reasons why a patient might have an unplanned readmission.
There are many disadvantages to unplanned readmissions. Not only does returning to a hospital interrupt the life of the patient, but any time a patient is in a hospital, they are at risk of contracting hospital-associated infections. Finally, each stay in a hospital costs money, spendings which could have been avoided had the patient received better care the first time around. A sign of a hospital which provides high-quality care is a low readmissions rate. With proper care, a hospital can reduce the number of patients who need to be readmitted, and can reduce their stay when readmitted as much as possible.

Sepsis is a complication that occurs when your body has an extreme response to an infection. It causes damage to organs in the body and can be life-threatening if not treated. Sepsis can sometimes turn into septic shock, which has a higher risk of death. Identifying sepsis early and starting appropriate care quickly increase the chances of survival.

Septic Shock
This measure focuses on adults 18 years and older with a diagnosis of severe sepsis or septic shock. It assesses whether or not the medically-required interventions were taken. As reflected in the data elements and their definitions, the first three interventions should occur within three hours of presentation of severe sepsis, while the remaining interventions are expected to occur within six hours of presentation of septic shock.

SIR Score
Infections are reported using a standardized infection ratio (SIR). The SIR compares the actual number of infections at a hospital to a national benchmark based on data reported to the National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN). Lower numbers are better.

An SSI (Surgical Site Infection) is any infection which occurs at the site of a surgery. Sometimes these infections can be superficial to the skin only, and will not pose a huge risk, while other times in more extreme cases, organs or implanted tissues can be infected as well. (Source: CDC)

A stroke is a medical emergency in which brain cells die following a sudden interruption in the flow of oxygen to the brain. There are two types of stroke – hemorrhagic and ischemic. Ischemic stroke, which occurs in around 85% of cases, is caused by a blood clot that plugs a blood vessel in the brain depriving cells of essential nutrients and oxygen.3 A less common type of stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, occurs when an artery in the brain bursts allowing blood to leak out and pool, exerting an increasing amount of pressure on brain cells until they die. Symptoms of stroke occur suddenly and include: numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body); confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and severe headache with no known cause. (Source: CMS Stroke Pamplet)