"The safety scores provide a window into our nation's hospitals, exposing worrisome risks that are mostly preventable," Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center, said in a statement.
Even the highest scoring hospitals have room for improvement. The Billings Clinic in Montana was at the top of Consumer Reports' list with a safety score of 72.
About 1-in-20 hospitalized U.S. patients will develop an infection in the hospital that can be devastating and even deadly, but most infections can be prevented as the 148 hospitals that reported zero infections prove.
Consumer Reports' ratings also report on the percentage of chest and abdominal CT scans that are ordered twice for the same patient. One doctor said probably less than 1 percent of patients undergoing chest CT scans should get double scans, but only 28 percent of the hospitals included in the ratings had double-scan rates of 5 percent or less in both categories.
Research suggested up to three-quarters of readmissions might be preventable. Consumer Reports includes readmissions in part because the "more often a patient enters a hospital, the greater the chance something will go wrong." No hospital earned the highest score for readmissions; 166 hospitals received the lowest score.
Also rated were communications -- 500 hospitals earned Consumer Reports' lowest score for communication about new medications and discharge plans.
Log on to www.ConsumerReports.org to access the ratings.