Death Rates From Heart Attacks Declining in U.S. Hospitals, CMS Finds
The number of deaths attributed to heart attacks in U.S. hospitals declined significantly since last year, according to an analysis conducted by CMS, USA Today reports.
The analysis, which focused on 4,569 U.S. hospitals that treat Medicare beneficiaries, found that the average ratio of deaths among patients who experienced heart attacks decreased from 16.6% last year to 16.2% this year.
In addition, the analysis discovered that even hospitals with the lowest and highest death rates achieved similar declines.
The analysis is part of a seven-year effort by CMS to have hospitals publicly report on efforts to provide recommended treatments to patients. CMS in 2007 began publicly reporting heart attack and heart failure mortality, and the agency also has added 30-day readmission rates for such conditions.
Possible Reasons for Decline
Harlan Krumholz, author of the analysis, attributed the findings to improvements in the care of heart attack patients.
Nancy Foster of the American Hospital Association agreed, noting that hospitals are seeking to reduce the time it takes to clear blocked arteries in heart attack patients.
Readmissions Still a Concern
However, the findings show that almost 25% of heart failure patients and 20% of heart attack and pneumonia patients return to the hospital within 30 days of being discharged.
According to USA Today, this indicates that hospitals still need to make significant progress in controlling the "revolving door" of facility care, which increases costs and results in questions about how well hospitals can help patients transition to home-based recovery (Sternberg/Gillum, USA Today, 7/7).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.