Critical Access Hospitals Taking on More Complex Surgeries, May Not Be Prepared for Risk

January 6, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Smaller hospitals, including critical access hospitals, are providing more complex services in an effort to cope with financial pressures but may not be prepared for the accompanying patient safety risks, according to a December 25, 2015, Wall Street Journal article. Based on reviews of Medicare patient records, the Journal estimates that inpatient joint replacement surgeries increased 42.6% at critical access hospitals from 2008 to 2013, far faster growth than the 9% rate in larger hospitals. Similarly, the record review indicates an almost doubled risk of 30-day mortality for patients at critical access hospitals, with 9 deaths per 1,000 inpatient joint replacement patients in critical access hospitals in 2013, compared with 5 deaths per 1,000 patients in larger hospitals.

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