Report card: Hospitals improve mortality rates with the help of public reporting

New York hospitals saw surgical death rates decline over 10 years while the treatment of serious illnesses improved, according to a new report card from the Niagara Health Quality Coalition.

State data from 2.5 million patient records showed surgical mortality rates improved about 50 percent, thanks largely to required reporting of outcomes and ongoing care improvements, the Associated Press reported.

The report card showed mortality rates for several hospital inpatient conditions fell between 2002 and 2011 as well. For example, mortality rates for heart attack patients dropped from 10.1 percent to 5.5 percent, acute stroke mortality rates fell from 13.1 to 12.3 and mortality rates for pneumonia patients dropped from 8.2 percent to 3.6 percent, the AP noted.

The report card looked at 2011 data that approximately 230 hospitals used for patient billing and internal quality, The Journal News reported.

Acknowledging that some hospitals treat more high-risk patients than other facilities and that patients arrive sicker at some hospitals, the coalition used risk-adjusted data to compare hospitals regardless of patient severity, according to an FAQ fact sheet.

According to the coalition, the report cards can allow physicians to put pressure on hospitals to deliver better quality care.

"A lot of times their doctors don't know this information. They don't know that the hospital to which they refer has a statistically significant worse mortally rate in the thing that the patient is being referred for or could be referred for," Niagara Health Quality Coalition President and CEO Bruce Boissonnault told the Journal News. "We like that, too. Then the doctor puts pressure on the hospital to improve."

In contrast the, research last spring found public quality reporting does not affect mortality rates. The study looked at Medicare's seven-year project aimed at collecting and publicizing performance data through the Hospital Compare website and couldn't say for sure whether modest improvements stemmed from clinical innovation or the effects of public reporting, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

For more:
- check out the fact sheet
- here's the AP article
- read the Journal News article