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When it comes to hospital safety, Billings Clinic was at the top of a list Consumer Reports has compiled for the first time.

Not all hospitals were included in the survey. Overall, Consumer Reports rated 1,159 hospitals in 44 states. The safety score gives consumers a way to compare hospitals on patient safety.

On a scale of one to 100, more than half, 51 percent, of the hospitals that Consumer Reports rates received a score below 50.

While Billings Clinic was at the top of the list, it got a safety score of “just 72,” according to a prepared statement. “Even the highest scoring hospitals have room for improvement.”

Infections, surgical mistakes, and other medical harm contribute to the deaths of 180,000 hospital patients a year, according to projections based on a 2010 report by the Department of Health and Human Services.

“The safety scores provide a window into our nation’s hospitals, exposing worrisome risks that are most preventable,” said Dr. John Santa, director of the Consumer Reports Health Ratings Center.

“A consumer who enters a hospital thinking it’s a place to get better deserves to know if that is indeed the case.”

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