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HealthGrades Study Finds Wide Disparities Among Hospitals Treating Women

by Lynn Shapiro, Writer | June 30, 2009
Wide gaps in women's
health outcomes at hospitals
The Sixth Annual HealthGrades Women's Health in American Hospitals study identifies patient outcomes for maternity care and in-hospital treatment for 16 procedures and diagnoses. Ratings for individual hospitals have been posted at www.healthgrades.com. Wide gaps persist between the best and worst hospitals, HealthGrades has found.

Among the findings are that the nation's best-performing hospitals have complication rates for vaginal and C-section deliveries, as well as neonatal mortality rates, that are dramatically below those of poorly performing hospitals. Additionally, mortality and morbidity in women's health, women's cardiovascular procedures and women's bone and joint procedures improved 33 percent in the best-performing hospitals, compared with the poor-performing hospitals.

The study focuses on two major areas of care for women, maternity care and women's health, as these represent the gamut of women's healthcare needs. Only 15 hospitals across the nation provided the best comprehensive coverage in both of these categories.

"Women account for nearly 60 percent of all hospital admissions. Because of this, the impact that quality women's health has on our nation is tremendous," said Dr. Rick May, senior physician consultant and a study co-author. "Based on the huge quality gaps we've identified in our study, it is crucial that women take a more active role in their healthcare by seeking out hospitals with the best quality outcomes and using this information in their decision when selecting a hospital," she says.

Women's Health Outcomes

HealthGrades analyzed more than 2.6 million hospitalizations using Medicare data from all 50 states from 2005 through 2007. Women's Health outcomes were separated into several aspects of care: Women's Medicine (heart attack, congestive heart failure, pneumonia, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and stroke); Women's Cardiovascular Procedures (coronary bypass surgery, peripheral vascular bypass, coronary interventional procedures, resection/replacement of abdominal aortic aneurysm, carotid surgery, and valve replacement); and Women's Bone & Joint Health (total knee and total hip replacement surgeries, spinal surgeries, and hip fracture repair). The study found:

* 169 hospitals were recognized as HealthGrades 2009/2010 Women's Health Excellence Award recipients. This places them within the top 5 percent of all hospitals nationwide.
* Among eligible hospitals, a total of 18,089 lives could have been saved and 6,849 complications avoided if all eligible hospitals performed at the level of the best-performing hospitals in women's health.