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Heart Attack Rates Lower at Best Hospitals
Heart Attack Rates Lower at Best Hospitals

July 9, 2007 (Insidermedicine) Heart attack rates appear to be lower at hospitals ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals”, say researchers in a report published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. 

Among the increasing number of profiling systems that evaluate and compare hospitals, the US News & World Report’s annual issue of “America’s Best Hospitals” for specialty and overall care is the one of the most widely known. Despite their status, their ability to identify the hospitals with the “best” survival rates for common cardiovascular conditions is unknown. 

In an attempt to assess the value of the hospital ranking system, researchers investigated the death rates among more than 13,000 patients admitted to 50 hospitals ranked as among the best in “Heart and Heart Surgery”. They compared them to more than 250,000 patients admitted to more than 3,800 unranked hospitals over a one-year period.  

They found that the U.S. News & World Report ranking, which includes many of the nation’s most prestigious hospitals, were successful at identifying a group of hospitals that was much more likely than non-ranked hospitals to have superb performance on 30-day death rate after a heart attack. However, the study also revealed that not all ranked hospitals had outstanding performance and that many non-ranked hospitals performed well. 

As a result, although the rankings provide some guidance about the performance on outcomes, they fall short of identifying all the top hospitals with respect to 30-day survival after admission for a heart attack. As well, they include a few hospitals that rate poorly. 

This does not mean, however, that ranking hospitals is not a useful barometer for performance. It really demonstrates that hospitals that rank poorly should take action, and those ranked highly should not boast or become complacent. The ultimate goal should not be to outrank peers, but to strive for optimum performance – by saving patients’ lives.

Reporting for Insidermedicine, I’m Dr. Susan Sharma.