Heart bypass surgery in Pennsylvania is becoming safer while increases in charges are becoming less precipitous, a new report suggests.
The fourth annual Consumer Guide to Coronary Artery Bypass Graft Surgery, published by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, reports 1993 patient mortality rates for 177 Pennsylvania cardiac surgeons and 41 hospitals. It includes average charges for the procedure.
While the number of bypass patients with significant risk factors remained about the same, the overall mortality rate dropped to 2.9% in 1993 from 3.9% in 1990, the report showed.
The average charge for bypass surgery rose a moderate 4.6% in 1993. That compares with increases of 6.2% in 1992 and nearly 10% in 1991.
"That hospital charges have been restrained and mortality rates have declined suggests that the process of public reporting is having a positive impact," said Ernest J. Sessa, the cost containment council's executive director.
For the fourth year, Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh had significantly fewer deaths than expected. Altoona (Pa.) Hospital and Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia also had lower-than-expected mortality rates.
From 1990 to 1993, hospital charges for bypass surgery rose an average of 22% statewide. During that period, Hamot Medical Center's rates jumped 51%-the highest of the hospitals that perform cardiac artery bypass graft surgery. However, the Erie, Pa.-based hospital's 1993 average charge of $53,000 ranked just 20th among the 41 hospitals.
Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia reported the highest average charge in 1993, at $103,000. Robert Packer Hospital in Sayre, Pa., had the lowest, with an average of $26,000.
Five hospitals reduced their charges in 1993. They are St. Luke's Hospital, Bethlehem; Western Pennsylvania Hospital, Pittsburgh; Penn State University Hospital-Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, Hershey; Shadyside Hospital, Pittsburgh; and Saint Vincent Health Center, Erie.