Hospital mortality gaps grow among elderly

While risk-adjusted mortality rates for elderly patients improved, the mortality rate gap between high-performing and poorly-performing hospitals has grown in recent years, according to research by healthcare rating firm HealthGrades. For its ninth annual study, HealthGrades analyzed 40.6 million Medicare records taken from 2003 through 2005, examining care at the nation's 5000 non-federal hospitals. The firm then gave hospitals a one, three or five-star rating based on outcomes in each of 28 medical categories. The study found that overall mortality rates had improved 7.9 percent from 2003 to 2005, but that top-tier hospitals enjoyed more of this improvement than lower-performing organizations. On average, a patient has a 69 percent lower chance of dying at a five-star hospital than at a one-star hospital, but mortality rates varied significantly by procedure, researchers noted.

For a look at more HealthGrades data:
- read their release (.pdf)
- download their report (.pdf)

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