Mortality Rates Rising at Critical-Access Hospitals, Falling at Others

April 10, 2013 | Strategic Insights for Health System


From 2002 to 2010, 30-day mortality rates rose by 0.1% per year in critical-access hospitals but fell by 0.2% per year in other acute care, non-critical-access hospitals, found a study in the April 3, 2013, Journal of the American Medical Association. Taken together, the difference in mortality rate between the two types of facilities widened by 0.3% annually. The study used retrospective data for Medicare fee-for-service admissions for acute myocardial infarction (1.9 million admissions), congestive heart failure (4.5 million admissions), and pneumonia (3.9 million admissions) between 2002 and 2010. Although 30-day mortality rates across all three conditions were comparable between critical-access hospitals (12.8%) and non-critical-access hospitals (13.0%) in 2002, the annually widening gap led to a higher overall mortality rate in critical-access hospitals (13.3%) than in non-critical-access hospitals (11.4%) by 2010. Examination of each of the three conditions individually revealed similar patterns. Critical-access hospitals also had higher mortality rates than other small, rural hospitals.

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