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Quality Study Finds Drop in Mortality Rates, but Wide Gap between Best and Worst Hospitals

October 20, 2010
by root
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A new independent study by Golden, Colo.-based HealthGrades of patient outcomes at America’s hospitals found that patients at 5-star rated hospitals had a 72 percent lower risk of dying when compared with patients at 1-star rated hospitals—an enormous gap that has held steady over the past years even as overall mortality rates have improved. According to the study, if all hospitals performed at the level of 5-star rated hospitals over the three years studied, 232,442 Medicare lives could potentially have been saved.

Released today, the Thirteenth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study analyzed objective mortality and complication rates at all of the nation’s 5,000 nonfederal hospitals using 40 million hospitalization records obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The study, the largest of its kind, identified national and state-level trends in hospital care quality and established quality ratings for each hospital, across 26 different procedures and diagnoses.

Looking at overall trends, the HealthGrades study found that hospital mortality rates, on average, have declined by 7.98 percent over the three-year period studied, from 2007 to 2009. Of the 17 mortality-based diagnoses and procedures analyzed, only two bucked the overall trend with increasing mortality rates—gastrointestinal surgeries and coronary intervention procedures.


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