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'Hospital Compare' Not a Good Indicator of Patient Outcome

Only small differences found in mortality between top and bottom ranked hospitals

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 13 (HealthDay News) -- The current set of performance measures provided by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' Hospital Compare Web site predict only small differences in patient outcome between hospitals ranked in top and bottom percentiles, according to a report in the Dec. 13 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Rachel Werner, M.D., Ph.D., and Eric Bradlow, Ph.D., both from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, determined whether the Hospital Compare quality measures accurately predict a hospital's risk-adjusted, condition-specific mortality rates for up to a year.

The researchers found that hospitals in the 75th percentile, ranked by Hospital Compare, had only minor improvements in patient mortality compared with those in the 25th percentile. For example, the mortality risk reduction across all acute myocardial infarction measures ranged from 0.005 for inpatients to 0.012 percent at one year. Similar small differences were seen for heart failure and pneumonia.

"These findings should not undermine current efforts to improve health care quality through performance measurement and reporting," the authors write. "However, attention should be focused on finding measures of health care quality that are more tightly linked to patient outcomes."

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