Are All Hospitals Created Equal?
December 21, 2016 | Strategic Insights for Health System
Hospital quality varies considerably even after accounting for population differences, co-morbidities, and health system factors, according to a December 14, 2016, story in the New York Times. The article highlighted a study first published in PLOS One, which found that patients at the worst performing hospitals were three times more likely to die—and 13 times more likely to experience medical complications—than if they had been treated at one of the "best" hospitals. The study analyzed 22 million hospital admission programs for two dozen medical outcomes. After adjusting for factors such as age, income, and how sick the patient was, the authors found significant variation between hospitals. While these factors greatly impact outcomes, the skill of the physicians and nurses as well as the culture at the hospital also plays a big part, said the study's lead author in the Times. Hospitals that treated high volumes of cases were generally more successful than those that treated low volumes, the article said. The authors acknowledged that patients have little access to this type of information and data on individual hospitals is "very limited."