Cardiac specialty hospitals treated patients who were less severely ill than those undergoing bypass surgery or angioplasty at general hospitals in the same communities between January 2002 and September 2004, healthcare information and research firm Solucient said. Unadjusted angioplasty mortality was twice as high at general hospitals and patients stayed significantly longer for both procedures, according to an analysis drawing from a database on more than 17 million U.S. discharges annually. Outcomes were similar when the data was adjusted for the number of Medicare procedures at a hospital and patient characteristics such as severity of illness, age, sex and related diagnoses. The difference between adjusted and unadjusted outcomes "strongly implies that specialty hospitals are treating less severely ill patients," a Solucient researcher said in a news release. -- by Cinda Becker
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