Heart attack survival rates no better at teaching hospitals

There's no statistically significant difference between survival rates for heart attack patients at teaching and nonteaching hospitals, according to a recent study in Academic Medicine.

Previous studies have found that teaching hospitals produce better acute myocardial infarction (AMI) outcomes than nonteaching hospitals, but those analyses excluded patients transferred out of nonteaching hospitals and did not separate outcomes based on patient risk levels. The new study, conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania, aimed to determine whether admission to a teaching hospital was related to greater chance of survival, after accounting for patient transfers and the severity of their condition.

The study found the mortality rate was lower in minor teaching hospitals compared with nonteaching hospitals, but found no difference in rates between major hospitals, teaching hospitals and nonteaching hospitals.

"After correctly accounting for the ability of nonteaching hospitals to appropriately transfer patients in need of different care, there was no survival benefit on average for initial admission to a teaching hospital for AMI," the researchers concluded. "Furthermore, higher-risk patients did not benefit from initial admission to teaching hospitals."

Related research shows that quality of care doesn't vary across hospital types, including at safety-net hospitals. A study published in August's Health Affairs found comparable mortality and readmission rates and identical heart failure mortality rates for safety nets and non-safety-net hospitals for acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and pneumonia patients.

To learn more:
- read the study

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