The Antidote

Counterspin for Health Care and Health News

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Good news on hospital death rates

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has released new data showing that mortality rates for six conditions and six procedures have declined steeply over a 10-year period from 1994 to 2004. In brief,
AHRQ compared the death rates for 1994 and 2004 for patients who were hospitalized for heart attack, congestive heart failure, stroke, pneumonia, gastrointestinal hemorrhage, or hip fracture.

For every 1,000 patients admitted for their condition:

o Heart attack deaths fell by 43; deaths from congestive heart failure, pneumonia, and stroke each dropped roughly 30; deaths from gastrointestinal hemorrhage declined by 21; and 16 fewer died from hip fracture.

For every 1,000 patients who underwent six surgical procedures examined:

o Abdominal aortic aneurysm repair deaths plunged from 103 to 74;
o Deaths from craniotomy – an operation for brain lesions and other conditions – declined from 83 to 68;
o Deaths from heart bypass surgery fell from 48 to 28, angioplasty deaths diminished from 16 to 12, those from carotid endarterectomy – an operation to avert stroke – fell from 12 to 7, and
o Deaths from hip replacement surgery declined by half – from 4 to 2 per every 1,000 operations.

The death rates for the six conditions and six surgical procedures are risk-adjusted, meaning that AHRQ’s researchers took into account differences in how ill patients were over time when calculating the results.


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