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HealthGrades sees hospital mortality rates fall


By Maureen McKinney
Posted: October 18, 2011 - 12:01 am ET
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Hospital mortality rates are dropping, but wide gaps in quality persist from one facility to another, according to an analysis of healthcare quality from Denver-based HealthGrades.

From 2008 to 2010, in-hospital mortality rates improved 13% across 18 measures and procedures, HealthGrades said in its 14th annual report. The authors rated nearly 5,000 U.S. hospitals using data on 27 procedures and diagnoses, such as heart bypass surgery, sepsis, stroke and total knee replacement. As in past years, HealthGrades found that hospital care varies significantly.

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Typical patients had a 73% lower risk of dying in a top-performing hospital versus a bottom-ranked facility, HealthGrades said. And patients were 63% less likely to experience in-hospital complications at a top-performing facility versus one ranked at the bottom. HealthGrades estimated that if all Medicare patients had received treatment at top-ranked hospitals during 2008, 2009 and 2010, more than 240,000 lives could have been saved.

In the report, HealthGrades also noted that patients are becoming increasingly interested in clinical quality information. In a 2010 HealthGrades survey of 14,075 patients, nearly 67% said they wanted more access to hospital quality data and 65% of respondents said they would pay higher out-of-pocket costs at top-rated hospitals.

“Healthcare consumers want choice and they want information to make informed decisions about where to receive their care,” HealthGrades said in the report.

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