Top-Rated Hospitals Continue to Deliver Better Care

(HealthDay News) - Patients admitted to the top-rated hospitals in the United States have an average 27 percent lower risk of dying than patients admitted to other hospitals in the country, a new study shows.

Released Thursday by HealthGrades, an independent health-care ratings organization, the analysis of 27 procedures and diagnoses also found that patients who have surgery at the top-rated hospitals have an average 5 percent lower risk of complications during their hospital stay.

For this study, researchers analyzed nearly 41 million hospitalizations in 2004, 2005 and 2006 at all 4,971 of the nation's non-federal hospitals. If all hospitals had the quality of care of the top 5 percent of those hospitals, 171,424 lives may have been saved, and 9,671 major complications may have been avoided during the three years studied.

The study also found that the top 5 percent of hospitals lowered their in-hospital risk-adjusted death rates over those three years by an average of 15 percent.

The procedures and diagnoses included in the analysis included: cardiac surgery; angioplasty and stenting; heart attack; heart failure; atrial fibrillation; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; community-acquired pneumonia; stroke; abdominal aortic aneurysm repair; bowel obstruction; gastrointestinal bleeding; pancreatitis; diabetic acidosis and coma; pulmonary embolism; and sepsis.

Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades chief medical officer, said, "The data in this year's study clearly indicates that the gap between top-performing hospitals and others persists. This disparity in the quality of care at U.S. hospitals is disappointing."

The top-rated hospitals "have proven that consistently delivering top-notch medical care is possible, and it is time for the rest to follow suit," Collier said in a prepared statement.