HEALTH: Quality Care

Where would we be without report cards? They help schools rank students--and, increasingly, teachers--and are used to evaluate everything from automobiles to laptops to corporate workplaces. But the medical profession has long been reluctant to publish specific data on infection rates, surgical complications or medication errors that would help the public decide which doctors or hospitals do a better job of caring for their patients.

The Federal Government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services took a small but significant step toward greater medical transparency this month when they launched a new website hospitalcompare.hhs.gov that allows consumers to assess the care at any of nearly...

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