Higher-spending hospitals see better emergency outcomes

Despite calls to rein in escalating healthcare spending, new research from Vanderbilt University Medical Center may have hospitals shelling out more dollars on emergency care, according to a study released as a working paper through the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Looking at Medicare ambulance and hospital data between 2002 and 2008, researchers found that higher-spending hospitals had significantly lower patient mortality for emergency patients than their lower-spending counterparts.

"At least for emergency, acute patients in our study, overall mortality was reduced 20 to 30 percent in higher-spending hospitals," John Graves, assistant professor of Preventive Medicine, said today in a statement.

Even after controlling for teaching status or capital quality, high-spending hospitals still had better mortality outcomes, according to the study.

While acknowledging wasteful spending throughout the industry, the researchers say the findings suggest policy makers can't easily slash healthcare dollars without compromising emergency care.

Such findings also reinforce a study last month in The Journal of the American Medical Association that found Canadian hospitals that spent more on patient care had lower mortality rates and fewer readmissions.

For more:
- here's the Vanderbilt press release
- check out the working paper