In a new report, consumer health information content vendor Health Grades Inc. analyzes three years of Medicare outcomes data and finds hospitals with the highest quality rates have significantly lower mortality rates than others.

“In fact, each year an estimated 234,252 lives could potentially be saved and 157,414 complications could be avoided if all hospitals performed similarly to the highest rated hospitals,” according to Health Grades. The vendor analyzed outcomes data of 40 million patient records from 4,500 hospitals and found hospitals rated at five on a 1-5 star system had substantially better outcomes than hospitals rated at one star. An evaluation of stroke care in 33 Atlanta hospitals, for instance, found mortality rates ranging from 0.8 percent to 13.4 percent.

Highest ranked hospitals across the nation had an 81 percent lower risk of COPD patients dying, with considerably lower death risks for many other severe conditions: colorectal surgery (70.4 percent lower), pneumonia (65.9 percent lower), stroke (54.6 percent lower), heart attack (48.1 percent lower) and sepsis (41.9 percent lower).

Study results also show that minimally invasive surgery reduces in-hospital mortality risks, and hospitals with poor treatment performances resulting in complications can double costs. The report also advises consumers on how to select health plans and physicians.

The report, “American Hospital Quality Outcomes 2014: Report to the Nation,” is available here.

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