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Not-for-Profit Hospitals Deliver Better Patient Care

Facilities with more nurses and more investment in technology also have better service quality

THURSDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Not-for-profit hospitals and hospitals with high nurse ratios and greater investment in technology deliver better patient care, according to a report published in the Dec. 11/25 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Bruce Landon, M.D., M.B.A, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed data submitted for the first half of 2004 to the American Hospital Association from over 4,000 hospitals on treatment of patients with congestive heart failure, acute myocardial infarction and pneumonia, creating composite scales for each disease.

For patients with each condition, profit-making hospitals underperformed their not-for-profit counterparts. Teaching hospitals scored better performance in terms of treatment and diagnosis but had worse performance in counseling and prevention compared to non-teaching facilities. Hospitals with higher registered nurse staffing and more technology performed better as well. Higher performance was also noted in hospitals with federal/military designation, a finding that indicates there are valuable lessons to be learned from the last decade of quality improvement undertaken by the Veterans Health Administration.

"Our results also suggest that characteristics of hospitals, including ownership, teaching status, location and accreditation, are significant predictors of performance," the authors conclude. "Because payments and sources of payments affect some of these factors (e.g., investments in technology and staffing ratios), policy makers should evaluate the effect of alternative payment approaches on quality."

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