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Nonprofit Releases Cancer Care Hospital Ratings

Picking a hospital for cancer treatment may be one of the most important decisions in a patient’s life.

Now, a Pennsylvania nonprofit is making it easier to see which hospitals are offering the best cancer care by making quality ratings available online for the first time.

The hospital quality reports, released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Quality Alliance (PHCQA), rates hospitals based on process measures, which assess a health care facility’s adherence to standard guidelines and procedures for treatment.

As of now, the data only includes three breast and two colon cancer criteria.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women, while colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer related death in men and women in the U.S.

Erik Muther, PHCQA executive director, said he and his team “felt it was probably better to start with cancers that have that degree of prevalence.”

For those without a choice in what hospitals they go to, Muther said the information is still relevant.

“The best thing for them is to use the information to then ask their providers or their hospitals that are the only treatment options that they may have, about whether they’re complying with the same evidence-based procedures and protocols that the other facilities are,” he said.

The reports are part of an initiative by the PHCQA and the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer to add level of transparency to Pennsylvania health care.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Erik Muther's name. The story has been updated.

The Erie, PA native has been a fellow in the WESA news department since May 2013. Having earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from Duquesne University, he is now pursuing an M.A. in multi-media management. Michael describes his career aspiration as "I want to do it all in journalism."