Higher spending appeared to lead to lower hospital mortality rates for patients with any of six common conditions, according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The authors warned, though, that the "findings should be interpreted with caution" because it's unknown which costly interventions led to the positive results.
Higher spending, fewer patient deaths, USC and Harvard researchers find
Studying a database of more than 2.5 million patient discharge records for 208 California hospitals between 1999 and 2008, researchers with the University of Southern California and Harvard Medical School found that hospitals that spent more on treatment of heart attacks, congestive heart failure, acute strokes, gastrointestinal bleeding, hip fractures and pneumonia had lower mortality rates for those conditions.
In fact, the authors calculated that heart-attack deaths would have increased by 1,831 if the patients had been admitted to the lowest-spending rather than the highest-spending hospitals.
The RAND Corp.- and National Institute on Aging-funded study contradicts recent reports showing that regions that spend more on healthcare have poorer outcomes than those who spend less, but the researchers said the results could have been skewed by "unmeasured confounders."
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