Top Hospitals Have 27% Lower Mortality, Annual Study Finds

Thu Jan 31, 2008 8:00am EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

Hospital Quality Gap Persists, Resulting in 171,424 Preventable
 Deaths, According to HealthGrades' Sixth Annual Hospital Quality and
                       Clinical Excellence Study

    Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence Named; Free to
                     Consumers at HealthGrades.com
GOLDEN, Colo.--(Business Wire)--Patients treated at top-rated hospitals nationwide are nearly
one-third less likely to die, on average, than those admitted to all
other hospitals, according to a study released today by HealthGrades,
the leading independent healthcare ratings organization. Patients who
undergo surgery at these high-performing hospitals also have an
average 5 percent lower risk of complications during their stay,
researchers found.

   The annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence
study, now in its sixth year, identifies hospitals in the top 5
percent nationally in terms of mortality and complication rates for 27
procedures and diagnoses, from bypass surgery to total knee
replacement. Hospitals achieving this level of care are designated
Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence by HealthGrades and
are identified on the organization's consumer Web site,
HealthGrades.com.

   To name hospitals in the top 5 percent for clinical excellence,
the HealthGrades' study analyzed nearly 41 million hospitalizations
during the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 at all 4,971 of the nation's
nonfederal hospitals.

   Disparities in the hospital care patients receive, based simply on
where they choose to seek treatment, highlight a troubling phenomenon
in the U.S. healthcare system: a persistent and preventable gap
between high-quality hospitals and the rest of the field.

   The 2008 study found that 171,424 lives may have been saved and
9,671 major complications avoided during the three years studied, had
the quality of care at all hospitals matched the level of those in the
top 5 percent.

   In comparing hospitals in the top 5 percent, designated as
Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence, with all other
hospitals, the HealthGrades study found:

   --  On average, a 27 percent lower risk of inhospital
        risk-adjusted mortality was experienced by Medicare patients
        at Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence in the
        following procedures and diagnoses: cardiac surgery,
        angioplasty and stent, heart attack, heart failure, atrial
        fibrillation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease,
        community-acquired pneumonia, stroke, abdominal aortic
        aneurysm repair, bowel obstruction, gastrointestinal bleed,
        pancreatitis, diabetic acidosis and coma, pulmonary embolism
        and sepsis.

   --  For those same procedures and diagnoses, Distinguished
        Hospitals for Clinical excellence improved at a greater rate
        than other hospitals, lowering inhospital risk-adjusted
        mortality rates over the years 2004, 2005 and 2006 by an
        average 15 percent.

   --  Medicare patients had, on average, a 5 percent lower risk of
        inhospital post-operative complications at a Distinguished
        Hospital for Clinical Excellence for diagnoses and procedures
        that include orthopedic and neurosurgery, vascular surgery,
        prostate surgery and gall bladder surgery.

   --  For those same procedures and diagnoses, Distinguished
        Hospitals reduced inhospital post-surgical complication rates
        by 2.35 percent from 2004 to 2006, more than twice as much
        improvement as all other hospitals.

   "HealthGrades acknowledges the tremendous commitment of the select
group of hospitals that have achieved consistent, high-quality care,
not just in one or two specialties, but across the board, from
orthopedic surgery to cardiac care," said Samantha Collier, MD,
HealthGrades chief medical officer. "However, the data in this year's
study clearly indicates that the gap between top-performing hospitals
and others persists. This disparity in the quality of care at U.S.
hospitals is disappointing. Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical
Excellence have proven that consistently delivering top-notch medical
care is possible and it is time for the rest to follow suit."

   Individuals can see how their local hospitals are rated, and if
they have been designated Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical
Excellence, for free at http://www.healthgrades.com.

   Methodology

   In its 2008 study, HealthGrades independently and objectively
analyzed millions of patient records from the Centers for Medicare and
Medicaid Services for fiscal years 2004, 2005 and 2006, for 27 medical
procedures and diagnoses. To qualify for the list, hospitals were
required to meet minimum thresholds in terms of patient volumes,
quality ratings and the range of services provided. Prior to comparing
the inhospital mortality and complication rates of the nation's
hospitals, HealthGrades risk-adjusted the data, to compare on equal
footing hospitals that treated sicker patients. Hospitals with
risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates that scored in the top
5 percent or better nationally - which demonstrates superior overall
clinical performance - were then recognized as Distinguished Hospitals
for Clinical Excellence.

   HealthGrades' methodology can be found in the study and on the
company's Web site.

   About HealthGrades

   Health Grades, Inc. (Nasdaq: HGRD) is the leading healthcare
ratings organization, providing ratings and profiles of hospitals,
nursing homes and physicians. Millions of consumers and many of the
nation's largest employers, health plans and hospitals rely on
HealthGrades' independent ratings and decision-support resources to
make healthcare decisions based on the quality of care. More
information on the company can be found at
http://www.healthgrades.com.

   Editor's note: A full copy of the study is available at
http://www.healthgrades.com or by contacting Scott Shapiro at
sshapiro@healthgrades.com.

Health Grades, Inc.
Scott Shapiro, 720-963-6584
sshapiro@healthgrades.com

Copyright Business Wire 2008