Top Hospitals Have 29% Lower Mortality, Improving Faster: Annual HealthGrades Study

GOLDEN, CO (January 26, 2010) Hospitals rated in the top 5% in the nation by HealthGrades have a 29% lower risk-adjusted mortality rate and are improving their clinical quality at a faster pace than other hospitals, according to a new study issued today by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. Hospitals rated in the top 5% can be found at

In addition to having lower risk-adjusted mortality rates, hospitals in the top 5% - designated Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical ExcellenceTM by HealthGrades - also had risk-adjusted complication rates that were 9% lower than all other hospitals.

Now in its eighth year, the HealthGrades Annual Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study examines patient outcomes at all 5,000 nonfederal hospitals in the country based on 40 million hospitalization records from 2006, 2007 and 2008 obtained from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Participation is not voluntary, and no hospital can opt out of being rated. For each hospital, risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates are evaluated across 26 procedures and diagnoses, from heart attack treatment to valve-replacement surgery to total knee replacement.

"This independent study of mortality and complication rates identifies an elite group of hospitals that are setting the benchmark for outstanding patient outcomes," said Rick May, MD, HealthGrades Vice President of Clinical Excellence Research and Consulting and an author of the study. "And what's extraordinary is that these hospitals are not standing still. In fact, the data show that they are continuing to improve their patient outcomes at a faster rate, reflecting a commitment to quality that stands as a model for all other hospitals."

The 2010 study of Medicare patients also found:

  • Thirty-six states have one or more hospitals in the top 5%. Delaware has the highest percentage of Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence at 50% of eligible hospitals, followed by Maryland, Minnesota, Florida and Connecticut
  • 150,132 patient deaths among Medicare patients may have been prevented and 13,104 inhospital complications among Medicare patients may have been avoided if all hospitals performed at the level of the top 5% of hospitals
  • The top 5% of hospitals showed greater overall improvement in risk-adjusted mortality from 2006 through 2008, with an average of 13.91% improvement versus 10.41% improvement for all other hospitals

More findings, including a ranking of states by percentage of top 5% hospitals, and a comparison of the top 5% of hospitals with all others at the procedure and treatment level, can be found in the study, available at


In its 2010 study, HealthGrades independently and objectively analyzed approximately 40 million patient records from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for fiscal years 2006, 2007 and 2008, for 26 medical procedures and diagnoses at every one of the nation's nearly 5,000 non-federal hospitals. To qualify for the list, hospitals were required to meet minimum thresholds in terms of patient volumes, quality ratings and the range of services provided. Prior to comparing the inhospital mortality and complication rates of the nation's hospitals, HealthGrades risk adjusted the data, to compare on equal footing hospitals that treated sicker patients. Hospitals with risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates that scored in the top 5% or better nationally - which demonstrates superior overall clinical performance - were then recognized as Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence.

HealthGrades' methodology can be found in the study and on the company's Web site.

About HealthGrades

Health Grades, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGRD) is the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, providing quality ratings, profiles and cost information on the nation's hospitals, physicians, nursing homes and prescription drugs. Millions of patients and many of the nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on HealthGrades' quality ratings, advisory services and decision-support resources. The HealthGrades Network of Web sites, including and, is a top-ten health property according to comScore and is the Internet's leading destination for patients choosing providers. More information on how HealthGrades guides America to better healthcare can be found at


Editor's note: A full copy of the study is available at or by contacting Scott Shapiro at [email protected].