Study Evaluates Hospital Quality and Mortality Rates

Findings suggest major quality differences between hospitals, but mortality rate improving
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Oct. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Hospital mortality rates in the United States have improved, although major differences in quality still exist between the best and worst hospitals, according to a report published Oct. 13 by HealthGrades.

The "Twelfth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study" analyzed the quality of 5,000 hospitals in the United States using data from 40 million Medicare discharges from 2006 to 2008. Hospitals were assigned a quality rating of one-star (poor), three-star (as expected), or five-star (best) for 27 procedures and diagnoses.

The study found that overall risk-adjusted mortality improved by 10.99 percent over this period. Although improvement was observed for all performance categories, five-star hospitals had greater improvement than lower-graded hospitals, and significant gaps in quality were present between the best and worst hospitals. Patients at the best hospitals had a 71.64 percent lower risk of death than at the worst hospitals and a 51.53 percent lower risk of death than at an average hospital for all procedures and diagnoses evaluated.

"If all hospitals performed at the level of a five-star rated hospital across the 17 procedures and diagnoses studied, 224,537 Medicare lives could potentially have been saved from 2006 through 2008," the authors write. "Health care reform cannot take place without attention to improving quality."

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