GOLDEN, Colo. (October 20, 2010) - A new independent study by HealthGrades of patient outcomes at America's hospitals found that patients at 5-star rated hospitals had a 72% 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, which are now available at www.healthgrades.com.
Looking at overall trends, the HealthGrades study found that hospital mortality rates, on average, have declined by 7.98% 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.
As part of the study, HealthGrades rated individual hospitals with a 1-star, 3-star or 5-star rating in each of 26 procedures and diagnoses, from bypass surgery to total knee replacements. A 1-star rating means that the hospital performed below average, to a statistically significant degree, when compared with the other 5,000 hospitals. A 3-star rating means the hospital's performance was average, and a 5-star rating means the hospital outperformed the national average to a statistically significant degree.
Five-star rated hospitals had significantly lower risk-adjusted mortality across the three years studied. A typical patient would have a 72.47% lower risk of dying in a 5-star rated hospital compared to a 1-star rated hospital, and a 53.36% lower risk of dying by going to 5-star rated hospital compared to the U.S. hospital average.
"We are encouraged by the steady improvement in mortality rates among America's hospitals, but there's an unacceptably wide gap that has persisted between the top-performing hospitals and all others in terms of patient outcomes," said Rick May, MD, an author of the study and a vice president with HealthGrades, the leading independent health care ratings organization. "For hospital leaders as well as potential patients, it is essential that they understand - and act upon - these findings."
The study examined mortality or complication rates in the following 26 procedures and diagnoses:
Mortality Cohorts Inhospital Complication Cohorts
Other findings from the study are as follows:
HealthGrades' Hospital Ratings
As part of this study, HealthGrades rates each of the nation's 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in 26 procedures and diagnoses, allowing individuals to compare their local hospitals online at www.healthgrades.com. HealthGrades' hospital ratings are independently created; no hospital can opt-in or opt-out of being rated, and no hospital pays to be rated. Mortality and complication rates are risk-adjusted, which takes into account differing levels of severity of patient illness at different hospitals and allows for hospitals to be compared on equal footing.
On www.healthgrades.com, patients can compare the HealthGrades quality ratings of their local hospitals.
HealthGrades is the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, providing quality ratings, profiles and cost information on the nation's hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and prescription drugs. Millions of patients and many of the nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades' quality ratings, advisory services and decision-support resources. The HealthGrades Network of Web sites, including HealthGrades.com and WrongDiagnosis.com, is a top-ten health property according to comScore and is the Internet's leading destination for patients choosing providers. More information on how HealthGrades guides Americans to their best health can be found at www.healthgrades.com.
AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.