Patients have on average a 70 percent lower chance of dying at the nation's top-rated hospitals compared with the lowest-rated hospitals across 17 procedures and conditions analyzed in the eleventh annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, recently issued by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization.
While overall death rates declined from 2005 to 2007, the nation's best-performing hospitals were able to reduce their death rates at a much faster rate than poorly performing hospitals, resulting in large state, regional and hospital-to-hospital variations in the quality of patient care, the study found.
HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, also found that if all hospitals performed at the level of five-star rated hospitals, 237,420 Medicare dealths could potentially have been prevented over the three years studied. More than half of those deaths were associated with four conditions: sepsis (a life-threatening illness caused by systemic response to infection), pneumonia, heart failure and respiratory failure.
The HealthGrades study of patient outcomes at the nation's approximately 5,000 hospitals is the most comprehensive annual study of its kind, analyzing more than 41 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2005 to 2007. The study examines procedures and conditions ranging from heart valve-replacement surgery to heart attack to pneumonia.
Full reports on death rate trends in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia are available in the study. And, for the first time, HealthGrades has released hospital death rates for the nation's 15 largest metropolitan statistical areas: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Philadelphia, Houston, Miami, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, San Francisco, Phoenix, Riverside-Inland Empire (CA) and Seattle. Large variation exists between major metropolitan areas.
"Geography should not be a major factor in patients' outcomes. If our nation's hospitals are to close the quality gap and guarantee an equally high level of medical care for every patient, no matter where he or she lives, it will require a commitment by our nation and its communities to demand more from quality improvement," said Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades' chief medical officer and a study author. "Until then, it is imperative that anyone seeking medical care at a hospital do their homework and know the hospital's quality ratings before they check in."
The study's major findings are:
In the study's analysis of hospital death rates, the following 17 procedures and conditions were analyzed: bowel obstruction, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary bypass surgery, coronary interventional procedures (angioplasty/stent), diabetic acidosis and coma, gastrointestinal bleed, gastrointestinal surgeries and procedures, heart attack, heart failure, pancreatitis, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, resection/replacement of the abdominal aorta, respiratory failure, sepsis, stroke, and valve replacement surgery. The full study, along with its methodology and state-by-state hospital-quality statistics, can be found here.
Materials provided by HealthGrades. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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