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U.S. Hospital Quality Gap Widens

Patients at nation's best centers have much lower chance of dying, report finds

MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Patients in U.S. hospitals rated in the top 5 percent for clinical excellence have a 27 percent lower risk of death and a 14 percent lower risk of complications, a new study finds.

The findings were released Monday by HealthGrades, an independent health-care ratings company.

If the quality of care at all U.S. hospitals matched the level of hospitals in the top 5 percent, 152,966 lives could have been saved and 21,896 complications could have been avoided over the three years -- 2002, 2003 and 2004 -- included in this study, the report found.

The fourth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence study analyzed nearly 39 million hospitalizations at all 5,122 non-federal hospitals in the United States.

Hospitals were rated based on death and complication rates in 26 procedures and diagnoses, including bypass surgery, hip replacement, stroke, pulmonary embolism, sepsis, bowel obstruction and gastrointestinal bleed.

"The data in this year's study indicate a clear and profound divergence between the best hospitals and all others," Dr. Samantha Collier, HealthGrades' vice president of medical affairs, said in a prepared statement.

She added that, "this growing 'quality chasm' is of concern to health-care professionals and patients alike, and we urge all consumers, if possible, to do their homework before checking into a hospital."

More information

Here's where you can find the HealthGrades's hospital ratings.

SOURCE: HealthGrades, news release, Feb. 6, 2006
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