Healthgrades, the Denver, Colo.-based website that allows patients to research and select physicians, has released a new report revealing that individuals are far more likely to die or suffer complications at hospitals receiving the lowest Healthgrades rating.
In fact, according to the report— “American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Report to the Nation,” each year an estimated 234,252 lives could potentially be saved and 157,418 complications could be avoided if all hospitals performed similarly to the highest rated hospitals.
The report, which is a comprehensive analysis of three years of Medicare outcomes data of 40 million patient records from 4,500 hospitals nationwide, shows that a patient’s chance of suffering a complication—or even death—is substantially greater at hospitals receiving Healthgrades one-star rating when compared to hospitals receiving a five-star rating. In fact, the variation in outcomes differs widely between hospitals within the same community. For example, Healthgrades evaluated 33 hospitals in Atlanta, finding that that stroke mortality rates were 17 times higher in hospitals receiving one star versus hospitals receiving five stars.
Specifically, the report found that there was a significantly lower risk of dying at a hospital receiving the highest rating for six mortality-based procedures and conditions including:
• COPD: 81.0 percent lower risk of dying
• Colorectal Surgeries: 70.4 percent lower risk of dying
• Pneumonia: 65.9 percent lower risk of dying
• Stroke: 54.6 percent lower risk of dying
• Heart Attack: 48.1 percent lower risk of dying
• Sepsis: 41.9 percent lower risk of dying
Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that their choice of a physician is inextricably linked to the choice of a hospital and its importance in predicting better outcomes, said Healthgrades officials. A recent study conducted for Healthgrades by Harris Interactive revealed that fewer than half of Americans over age 26 gather extensive and detailed information before selecting a hospital or physician. In fact, consumers are more likely to choose a hospital based on convenient location (58 percent) or amount of co-pay (45 percent) than based on outcomes data (30 percent). But the importance of choice is significant.
“We urge consumers to do their homework when choosing a plan to find out which physicians are covered and whether or not the physician practices at a hospital with a low risk of mortality or complications,” Roger Holstein, CEO of Healthgrades said in a statement. “Choosing a plan is not just about cost. The most important factor is quality."