For decades, Americans have been unable to “shop” for their medical care in the way they could shop for other goods and services. The hospital you chose was often chosen by geographic proximity.

In small communities and for emergency care, Americans are still largely unable to choose hospitals based on anything but geography. But increasingly, we do find that we have more choices in health care, which is why hospital ratings and safety scores have become important consumer tools. These rating systems also help states assess the quality of healthcare overall.

According to a non-profit organization called “The Leapfrog Group,” New Jersey hospitals rank fifth in the nation in terms of patient safety. TLG’s most recent report card notes that the only states with higher patient safety scores are Maine, Massachusetts, Virginia and Florida.

Of course, there are dozens or even hundreds of different healthcare rating systems, and they may be focused on different types of data. Moreover, hospitals that advertise their high scores may be cherry-picking only the positive reviews while ignoring those that are less flattering. For these reasons, it is still somewhat difficult for patients to know which sources of information to trust as accurate and unbiased.

On the whole, it is both noteworthy and promising that New Jersey hospitals ranked highly nationwide. But this does not mean that high-ranking hospitals don’t make mistakes that seriously harm patients. Medical malpractice can and does happen everywhere.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured by hospital or physician negligence, don’t let a hospital’s high rating dissuade you from speaking up. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you pursue the compensation you need and deserve.

Source: NJ.com, “N.J. ranks 5th highest in hospital safety,” Susan K. Livio, April 29, 2015