A ‘hard tradeoff’: Pricey teaching hospitals have lowest death rates for older patients

Seattle Children’s Hospital once sued after being left out of insurance plans. Massachusetts officials have touted the value of care provided at the state’s community hospitals. In Houston, some health plans exclude the city’s renowned research hospitals.

At a time when insurers are steering patients away from expensive academic medical centers, a new study counters the idea that the quality of care is consistent across hospitals, concluding that major teaching hospitals have lower mortality rates for older patients than community hospitals.

Using millions of Medicare records, researchers found that the 30-day mortality rate — the percentage of patients who died within 30 days of hospitalization and one common way to gauge quality — was 8.3 percent at major teaching hospitals, compared with 9.2 percent at minor teaching hospitals and 9.5 percent at non-teaching hospitals. The figures accounted for differences in patient populations and hospital characteristics.

That 1.2 percentage point spread translates into one fewer patient dying for every 83 patients the hospitals see, said Dr. Laura Burke, one of the study authors.

READ the entire article here.