Thursday, May 24, 2007

USA Today: "Does where you live determine if you'll live?"

From USA Today:

Hospital death rates are among the best-kept secrets in American medicine. The Internet may be crowded with consumer information, from school report cards to airline safety records, but death rates for most hospitals are still as closely guarded as the formulas for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Coke.

That will begin to change in June, when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) plans to post the first broad comparison of the death rates for heart attack and heart failure on its website, Hospital Compare (

The federal initiative marks a bold departure for an agency that has long been the repository of private information on Medicare patients. More than a dozen top hospitals provided USA TODAY with an exclusive look at the government's initiative by sharing their confidential Medicare death-rate report cards. The reports are drawn from death rates of heart attack and heart failure patients who died between July 2005 and June 2006, of any cause, within a month of entering the hospital.

The analysis reveals just 17 of 4,477 hospitals had heart attack death rates that were better than the national rate. Thirty-eight of 4,804 hospitals had heart failure death rates that were better than the national rate.


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