Medical Errors and Hospital Mortality Rates

Medical errors that lead to death are far less likely in our country’s best hospitals, according to a report released today by the medical ratings company Health Grades. According to the study, patients have a 51.53% lower risk of dying in our nation’s top rated hospital in comparison to the general US hospital.
This is an astounding figure. The discrepancy in the quality of care received in our nation’s hospitals is appalling. As Congress debates healthcare reform legislation, it’s unfortunate that such issues are not at the forefront of the healthcare debate.
According to Rick May, one of the authors of the study, this information should be part of the ongoing debate.
“The fact is, patients are twice as likely to die at low-rated hospitals than at highly rated hospitals for the same diagnoses and procedures. With Washington focused on rewarding high-quality hospitals and empowering patients to make more informed health care choices, this information comes at a turning point in the health care debate.”
Other findings in the 12th annual “HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study”:

If all hospitals performed at the level of a five-star rated hospital across 17 procedures and diagnoses studied for mortality rates, 224,537 lives of Medicare patients could potentially have been saved from 2006 through 2008.
About 57 percent (127,488) of the potentially preventable hospital deaths were associated with four diagnoses: sepsis (44,622); pneumonia (29,251); heart failure (26,374) and respiratory failure (27,241).
Across all procedures studied, there was a 61.22 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more in-hospital complications in a five-star rated hospital compared to the U.S. hospital average.
Hospitals that have received the stroke certification from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations have an 8 percent lower risk-adjusted mortality rate than hospitals that have not received this certification.