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JAMA. 2011 Mar 16;305(11):1113-8. doi: 10.1001/jama.2011.307.

Geographic variation in diagnosis frequency and risk of death among Medicare beneficiaries.

Author information

  • 1Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, White River Junction, Vermont, USA. h.gilbert.welch@dartmouth.edu

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Because diagnosis is typically thought of as purely a patient attribute, it is considered a critical factor in risk-adjustment policies designed to reward efficient and high-quality care.

OBJECTIVE:

To determine the association between frequency of diagnoses for chronic conditions in geographic areas and case-fatality rate among Medicare beneficiaries.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS:

Cross-sectional analysis of the mean number of 9 serious chronic conditions (cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, peripheral artery disease, severe liver disease, diabetes with end-organ disease, chronic renal failure, and dementia) diagnosed in 306 hospital referral regions (HRRs) in the United States; HRRs were divided into quintiles of diagnosis frequency. Participants were 5,153,877 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries in 2007.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Age/sex/race-adjusted case-fatality rates.

RESULTS:

Diagnosis frequency ranged across HRRs from 0.58 chronic conditions in Grand Junction, Colorado, to 1.23 in Miami, Florida (mean, 0.90 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 0.89-0.91]; median, 0.87 [interquartile range, 0.80-0.96]). The number of conditions diagnosed was related to risk of death: among patients diagnosed with 0, 1, 2, and 3 conditions the case-fatality rate was 16, 45, 93, and 154 per 1000, respectively. As regional diagnosis frequency increased, however, the case fatality associated with a chronic condition became progressively less. Among patients diagnosed with 1 condition, the case-fatality rate decreased in a stepwise fashion across quintiles of diagnosis frequency, from 51 per 1000 in the lowest quintile to 38 per 1000 in the highest quintile (relative rate, 0.74 [95% CI, 0.72-0.76]). For patients diagnosed with 3 conditions, the corresponding case-fatality rates were 168 and 137 per 1000 (relative rate, 0.81 [95% CI, 0.79-0.84]).

CONCLUSION:

Among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries, there is an inverse relationship between the regional frequency of diagnoses and the case-fatality rate for chronic conditions.

PMID:
21406648
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3071496
Free PMC Article
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