MA officials question high hospital death rates

Despite the state's overall reputation for excellent care--and the presence of high-profile institutions like Beth Israel Deaconess and Massachusetts General--at least one study suggests that patients are dying there at a higher rate than average. According to figures from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, mortality rates at the state's hospitals were 7 percent higher than the national average, despite the state's low poverty rates and high volume of specialists.

Researchers drew this conclusion using a method known as the Hospital Standardized Mortality Ratio, which measures the number of hospital deaths versus expected deaths. This measure is being challenged by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which notes that the ratio hasn't been validated by the National Quality Forum and other top quality measurement groups. However, some individual hospitals--including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center--are in favor of the measure, and have publicly disclosed their own specific ratios voluntarily.

To find out more about the mortality rate dispute:
- read this article from The Boston Globe

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