The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Friday, June 22, 2007

Hospital Compare adds patient outcomes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has just added 30-day mortality measures for heart attack and heart failure patients (separately). These are the first actual patient outcome measures to be included in this national, voluntary, hospital-specific public reporting database. In addition to the rates themselves, the site compares the rates to the national average (better, about the same, or worse).

The rates are also risk-adjusted to even out differences in the underlying morbidity of patients. The 30 days include patients who die outside the hospital, because there are also differences in how quickly hospitals discharge patients. This is, however, a potential source of error, because it's fairly difficult to capture deaths that occur outside the hospital. Last time I checked, there was a substantial time lag before such information was available via national data sources. If readers know how hospitals typically get such information, I'd be interested.

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