Top Hospitals Have Lower Mortality Rates
Patients ages 65 and older last year were 69% less likely to die at hundreds of the best hospitals than hundreds of the worst, according to a study conducted by Colorado-based Health Grades, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
For the annual study, the health industry ratings company reviewed 41 million medical records of Medicare beneficiaries to rate the quality of care at 5,170 hospitals. Health Grades calculated overall hospital performance by analyzing the top and bottom 10% to 15% of facilities, which were ranked by mortality rates for 28 types of treatments.
The study found that hospitals overall reduced mortality rates by 7.9% from 2002 through 2005. Although some hospitals had larger reductions than others, according to the study, the gap between mortality rates at the best and worst hospitals widened by 5% in 2005.
Study author Samantha Collier said, "Although everybody's improving, the best are getting better, and the bottom isn't improving as fast." Collier added that the best performing hospitals were able to reduce mortality rates during common procedures by providing more information to patients and more performance-based pay to executives.
Louis Evan Teichholz -- chief of cardiology at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, which was ranked among the top 5% of facilities in a separate Health Grades study -- said that hospitals could improve by establishing policies and reminders about how each medical case should be handled. Teichholz said that hospitals could lower health care costs by reducing the number of complications, such as infections.
According to Collier, more than 302,000 lives could have been saved between 2003 and 2005 if all hospitals had performed as well as the top ones.
Heart failure, pneumonia, respiratory failure and blood infections accounted for nearly half of preventable deaths, according to the report.
Collier said the findings were intended to help patients choose the best care for their elective treatments (Larkin, Bloomberg/Philadelphia Inquirer, 10/17).
The study is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.