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HealthGrades notes variation in emergency care


By Maureen McKinney
Posted: June 23, 2010 - 2:45 pm ET
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While some hospital emergency departments have made significant strides in improving quality and throughput, others still struggle with issues like overcrowding and adverse events, according to a new study from Golden, Colo.-based HealthGrades.

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For HealthGrades' first study of emergency medicine in American hospitals, researchers evaluated ED admissions at more than 4,900 hospitals from 2006 to 2008, using measures like wait times, number of patients who leave without being seen and risk-adjusted mortality. They found a high degree of variability among hospitals.

The study recognized 255 hospitals that performed in the top 5% for emergency medicine. Those hospitals had a 39% lower risk-adjusted mortality rate when compared with others, and the top-ranking hospitals also saw greater improvement in their mortality over the three-year time span than did other facilities. The study's authors concluded that if all hospitals were performing at the level of the top 5%, 118,014 patients could have potentially survived hospitalization.

“These differences could mean the difference between life and death for patients requiring emergency treatment,” the authors wrote. “Therefore consumers and healthcare providers alike should use the available quality information and understand the quality of care in their marketplace. Healthcare providers should look to and learn best practices from these best-performing hospitals.”

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