Most hospitals rank at the national average on mortality rates for heart attack and heart failure, according to new data released on the Hospital Quality Alliances Hospital Compare Web site. The addition of the new data, bringing the total number of quality measures on the site to 23, represent the first time the CMS and the alliance have publicly released information on these two outcomes. The Hospital Compare Web site is a joint effort between the CMS, the Hospital Quality Alliance and other organizations.
The new information will allow consumers to find out how heart attack and heart failure patients fared 30 days after being admitted to a hospital, including time spent outside of the hospital upon discharge. Of the 4,807 hospitals in the U.S. rated for heart failure on the site, 38 ranked better than the U.S. national 30-day death rate from heart failure, which is 11%, and 35 ranked worse, with the rest ranking no differently than the national rate. For heart attacks, 4,477 were evaluated, with most ranking no differently than the national 30-day death rate of 16%, 17 ranking better and seven hospitals ranking worse than the national rate. The rates are from data reported for discharges from July 2005 through June 2006.
CMS officials stressed that the results are risk-adjusted, although improvements to the site could be made to make it more consumer friendly, said Herb Kuhn, the CMS acting deputy administrator, during a news conference to announce the new data. Hospitals have already received detailed reports on how they scored, he said.
Hospitals must report 21 of the measures included on the Hospital Compare Web site in order to qualify for full Medicare payment updates. Heart attack and heart failure measures havent yet been tied to Medicare reimbursement.
The addition of the new mortality data to the Web site will help patients choose the hospital thats best for them, said Richard Umbdenstock, president of the American Hospital Association, a partner of the alliance. As for those 42 hospitals that ranked below the national average for both mortality measures, Umbdenstock said there doesnt seem to be one conclusive factor that explains it. The Hospital Quality Alliance is a public-private initiative that includes hospitals, physicians, nurses, federal agencies, quality experts and other groups. -- by Jennifer Lubell