Hospital Death Rates Allow Patients to Compare Medical Treatment

Posted on Aug 26, 2008

USA Today reported that the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has released data comparing the death rates, also called mortality rates, of hospitals.  The study analyzed deaths from heart attack, heart failure and pneumonia within a 30 day period of hospitalization and studied only these common, life threatening conditions.  The findings, published at  are significant because many believe a hospital's death rate based just on these common medical conditions, is a better indication of hospital care quality than previous death rate studies that included patients with other diseases and medical treatment for other conditions. 

Unfortunately, like we see in many medical malpractice cases, rather than take responsibility for their mistakes, hospital corporations and administrators blame their patients.  The article indicated one chief of medical education (of a hospital with above average death rates) stated patients in his community often did not seek medical attention soon enough or follow doctors orders.  A doctor at a top ranked hospital put it best, saying "we have those patients here too."

Hopefully hospitals and health care providers will use this study as a tool to improve health care, including patient education and communication, not just for heart attacks and health disease.  And now patients can compare a hospital's track record online.

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