Quality of Hospitals Varies From State to State, Study Finds
Hospital quality varies from state to state, according to the sixth annual "Hospital Quality in America" study released Monday, the Newark Star-Ledger reports. The study, conducted by researchers at the Ohio-based not-for-profit group HealthGrades, analyzed risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates among Medicare beneficiaries treated between 2000 and 2002 at about 5,000 hospitals nationwide (Newark Star-Ledger, 9/23). The study examined patient outcomes for 26 procedures and diagnoses at the hospitals and issued them a grade of one to five stars in each area. Hospitals that received five stars preformed "better than expected" in an area, and those that received one star performed "significantly worse than expected." The study also compared patient outcomes at hospitals in five of the areas -- coronary artery bypass graft surgery, percutaneous coronary interventions, acute myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and community acquired pneumonia -- on a state-by-state basis. According to the study, higher-quality hospitals are located in northern and less populated states, and lower-quality hospitals are located in southern states. Hospitals in North Dakota, Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Maryland received the highest grades, and hospitals in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Mississippi and Tennessee received the lowest grades, according to the study. "The quality chasm at American hospitals is real, and it is very alarming and concerning," Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs for HealthGrades, said (HealthGrades release, 9/22).
Liz Sweeney of the financial analysis firm Standard & Poor's added that more consumers and health insurers have begun to consider quality report cards such as the HealthGrades study when they evaluate hospitals. However, Ron Czajikowski, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Hospital Association, said that the report cards are "just one piece of the quality review puzzle," adding, "It shouldn't be looked at by itself, but rather in the context of other measuring sticks (Newark Star-Ledger, 9/23). The study is available online.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.