Substantial gap in care quality between 'best' and 'worst' hospitals

Patients in a five-star hospital had a 72 percent lower risk of dying compared to those treated in a one-star hospital, a study of U.S. hospital quality by HealthGrades determined. According to the study, if all hospitals performed at a five-star quality level, more than 232,000 lives could have been saved from 2007 through 2009.

HealthGrades analyzed objective mortality and complication rates at all 5,000 U.S. non-federal hospitals, and gave individual hospitals a one-star, three-star or five-star rating in each of 26 procedures and diagnoses. The 13th annual report showed that large gaps between the "best" and the "worst" hospitals across all procedures and diagnoses studied have continued to widen for the past three years.

Yet, according to the study, hospital mortality rates also have improved by about 8 percent from 2007 to 2009--although top-rated hospitals had significantly lower risk-adjusted mortality. Patients treated at a five-star hospital had a 53 percent lower risk of dying compared to the national average, noted HealthGrades.

"We are encouraged by the steady improvement in mortality rates among America's hospitals, but there's an unacceptably wide gap that has persisted between the top-performing hospitals and all others in terms of patient outcomes," HealthGrades Vice President  and study author Rick May told CMIO.

What's more, nearly 186,000 Medicare inhospital complications may have been prevented during the three-year study period if all hospitals had performed at a five-star level.

For more:
- read the CMIO article
- check out the HealthGrades study