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Study naming hospitals in top 5% for clinical quality released by HealthGrades


Patients in highest-quality hospitals have 12-20% better survival rates for common procedures and diagnoses

A new study naming hospitals in the top five percent in the nation in clinical quality is being released today by HealthGrades, the independent healthcare quality organization. The hospitals – 229 out of nearly 5,000 – were ranked at the top of the list based on the death and complication rates of Medicare patients in 28 common procedures and diagnoses, from hip replacement to bypass surgery, over the years 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Medicare patients going to these hospitals had a 12 to 20 percent better chance of surviving common procedures and diagnoses when compared with an average hospital, according to the study, officially titled the third annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality and Clinical Excellence Study.

"These in-hospital survival differences are significant -- they cannot and should not be ignored," said Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades’ Vice President of Medical Affairs. "Our research of the actual outcomes of patients checking into the nation’s hospitals shows that a select group of hospitals have found the key to lowering mortality and complication rates not just in one specialty, but across the board. Because of the variation in quality from one hospital to the next, which HealthGrades has been documenting for eight years now, patients need to do their research before choosing a local hospital."

Individuals can access the list for free at

Hospitals found to be in the top five percent in the nation were named Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical ExcellenceTM by HealthGrades. Other findings from the study include:

  • If all patients went to a Distinguished Hospital for four of the highest-volume procedures and diagnoses – coronary bypass, angioplasty, stroke and community acquired pneumonia – 52,949 lives could have been saved from 2001 to 2003 – about the average attendance of an NFL football game
  • A Medicare patient who underwent heart bypass surgery at a Distinguished Hospital for Clinical ExcellenceTM had, on average, a 15.3 percent better chance of surviving than a patient who received treatment at an average hospital
  • The improved survival rates at Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence were 15.4 percent for stroke, 12.62 percent for heart attack (in hospitals where angioplasty and stent treatments were available), and 19.55 percent for community-acquired pneumonia
  • The Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence had better patient outcomes despite the fact that they treated more and sicker patients


In its 2005 study, HealthGrades independently and objectively analyzed millions of Medicare patient records from fiscal years 2001 to 2003, for 28 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 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 five percent or better nationally – which demonstrates superior overall clinical performance – were then recognized as Distinguished Hospitals for Clinical Excellence.

Scott Shapiro | EurekAlert!
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