Wide Disparity in Patient Care Quality Exists Between Hospitals

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If you think you can trust every hospital to treat you or a family member equally well, think again.  A new study shows that patients treated at some hospitals run a much greater risk of dying as compared to other locations.

In a study published on PLUS ONE, an academic website, researchers reviewed more than 22 million hospital admissions to measure the differences in patient care offered at healthcare facilities around the country.  This exhaustive look included both private insurance records as well as those from Medicare.  Researchers evaluated the patient care records based on patient outcomes – how well they fared – for 24 specific medical conditions.

Patients Three Times More Likely to Die at “Bad” Hospitals

While not identifying the hospitals in the study, the researchers were able to clearly group poor-performing facilities and their counterparts.  They concluded that patients at the worst hospitals were three times more likely to die than if they were treated at the study’s best hospitals.  And patients were 13 times more likely to suffer additional medical complications while receiving care at the worst hospitals.

More specifically, patients treated for a heart attack or stroke by the bottom 10 percent of the study’s hospitals were twice as more likely to die than at the upper 10 percent of hospitals.  And patients at the worst performing hospitals were 20 times more likely to get a serious hospital acquired infection than those at the best health centers.

That’s quite an alarming difference in patient care quality.  What accounts for this difference?

Factors that Affect Hospital Patient Care

There are many factors, according to the researchers.  These include:

·         The skill of the hospital’s doctors and nurses

·         How well a hospital’s culture values patient safety

·         The treatment selected by healthcare providers

·         The level of experience with a specific medical procedure

Another surprise is where the worst performing hospitals are located.   Social and economic factors, it turns out, don’t really play a defining role in a hospital’s performance.  The study uncovered some of the worst hospitals in high-income, predominantly white communities.  Some of the best hospitals were found in economically depressed environments.

While the study documents the wide variety in hospital patient care, the authors note that this type of information is not generally available to the public.  They argue that greater transparency regarding patient safety should come from hospitals and healthcare providers.  Patients and their families are owed this insight so they can make better decisions about care.

The more information individuals have upfront about physician and hospital medical mistakes, the better the chances they have of avoiding them.

But if you did lose a loved one or you suffered significant further harm from an error in medical care, talk with an attorney who is experienced in representing victims of medical malpractice.  Nothing can truly make up for your loss but you do have the legal right to pursue just compensation from those who caused it.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.

Authored by Gray Ritter Graham, posted in Medical Malpractice on Monday, January 9, 2017

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