The U.S. government launched a new Web site called Hospital Compare on Thursday to give people information about the quality of hospital care across the nation.

The Web site is run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Hospital Quality Alliance, a public-private collaboration established to promote reporting on hospital quality of care.

Click here to visit Hospital Compare.

Hospital Compare provides information based on 30-day mortality rates for Medicare patients admitted for heart attack and heart failure from 4,500 hospitals.

The Web site also offers 21 measures for consumers to better understand a hospital's 'Process of Care.' The measures assess how hospitals provide the care recommended for patients being treated for a heart attack, heart failure, pneumonia, or patients having surgery. Hospitals voluntarily submitted this data from their medical records from adult patients and it will be updated quarterly.

“These improvements add to our continuing effort to provide better, value-based, health care at a lower cost for all Americans,” HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt said in a statement. “Quality standards are best developed by the medical family and hospitals. I applaud the Hospital Quality Alliance for providing information that everyone can use and agree upon for the benefit of consumers.”

CMS acknowledges that this is the first step, and not the last word, on improving medical care. The Web site also includes a checklist of questions for patients and their families to ask doctors and hospitals, as well as information about patients' rights within a hospital.

The Web site does not provide information on children's psychiatric, rehabilitation or long-term care hospitals.