A Medical Device Daily

HealthGrades ’ (Golden, Colorado) most recent study of hospital quality in America found that a typical patient has, on average, a 69% lower chance of dying in a 5-star hotel compared to a 1-star hospital.

The gap widened by about 7% from last year’s study, even though overall mortality rates improved nearly 8%.

The Ninth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study analyzes 40.6 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2003 through 2005 to rate the quality of care at each of the nation’s more than 5,000 non-federal hospitals. Hospitals were assigned a 1-star (poor), 3-star (as expected) or 5-star (best) rating.

The full study is available on the organization’s web site, HealthGrades.com.

“This year’s study finds that mortality rates among Medicare patients continues to decline; however the differences in patient outcomes between 5-star and 1-star hospitals remains large and is getting larger, a concerning finding,” said Samantha Collier, MD, the author of the study and the vice president of medical affairs at HealthGrades.

“But these are more than numbers,” she added. “According to the study, more than 300,000 Medicare lives could have been saved during the three years studied if all hospitals performed at the level of hospitals rated with 5 stars.”

For example, the study shows a typical person having coronary bypass surgery has a 72.9% lower risk of mortality, on average, if he or she has the procedure at a 5-star rated hospital compared with a 1-star rated hospital. If all Medicare coronary bypass surgery patients from 2003 to 2005 went to 5-star hospitals, 5,308 lives could have been saved, HealthGrades reported.

“Better than expected outcomes are achievable and hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved if all hospitals could improve to a performance level comparable to 5-star rated hospitals,” the study said. “Even moving just the bottom group of hospitals up to the national averages would result in substantial improvement.”

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