Patients checking into a top rated hospital have a 27 percent lower chance of mortality

Patients checking into a hospital rated in the top five percent in the country have, on average, a 27 percent lower chance of mortality and a 14 percent lower risk of complications, according to a study released today by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings company.

The annual HealthGrades study identifies hospitals in the top five percent in the nation in terms of mortality and complication rates across 26 procedures and diagnoses, from bypass surgery to hip-replacement surgery.

The study finds that 152,966 lives could have been saved, and 21,896 complications could have been avoided, if the quality of care at all hospitals matched the level of those in the top five percent.

To name hospitals in the top five percent for clinical excellence, HealthGrades' fourth annual Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study analyzes nearly 39 million hospitalizations over the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 at all 5,122 of the nation's nonfederal hospitals. Those with the lowest mortality and complication rates are named Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical ExcellenceTM.

"The data in this year's study indicate a clear and profound divergence between the best hospitals and all others," said Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades' vice president of medical affairs. "HealthGrades applauds those hospitals that have operationalized excellence, ensuring that high-quality care is delivered not just in one or two categories of care, but across the board, from cardiac care to orthopedic surgery. But this growing 'quality chasm' is of concern to healthcare professionals and patients alike, and we urge all consumers, if possible, to do their homework before checking into a hospital."

Individuals see how their local hospitals are rated, and if they have been designated Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence, for free at http://www.healthgrades.com.

In comparing Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence with all other hospitals, the HealthGrades study finds:

  • On average, a 27 percent lower risk of mortality was experienced by Medicare patients at Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence in the following procedures and diagnoses: cardiac surgery, angioplasty and stent, heart attack, heart failure, atrial fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, community-acquired pneumonia, stroke, abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, bowel obstruction, gastrointestinal bleed, pancreatitis, diabetic acidosis and coma, pulmonary embolism and sepsis.
  • For those same procedures and diagnoses, Distinguished Hospitals lowered their mortality rates over the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 at a 36 percent faster rate than all other hospitals.
  • Medicare patients had, on average, a 14 percent lower risk of post-operative complications at a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence for diagnoses and procedures that include orthopedic and neurosurgery, vascular surgery, prostate surgery and gall bladder surgery.
  • For those same procedures and diagnoses, Distinguished Hospitals improved their post-operative complication rates at a 40 percent faster rate than all other hospitals over the years 2002, 2003 and 2004.

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