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Med Care. 2002 Oct;40(10):879-90.

Mortality trends during a program that publicly reported hospital performance.

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  • 1Center for Health Care Research and Policy, Case Western Reserve University at MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.



It is unclear whether publicly reporting hospitals' risk-adjusted mortality leads to improvements in outcomes.


To examine mortality trends during a period (1991-1997) when the Cleveland Health Quality Choice program was operational.


Time series.


Medicare patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction (AMI; n = 10,439), congestive heart failure (CHF; n = 23,505), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (GIH; n = 11,088), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD; n = 8495), pneumonia (n = 23,719), or stroke (n = 14,293).


Risk-adjusted in-hospital mortality, early postdischarge mortality (between discharge and 30 days after admission), and 30-day mortality.


Risk-adjusted in-hospital mortality declined significantly for all conditions except stroke and GIH, with absolute declines ranging from -2.1% for COPD to -4.8% for pneumonia. However, the mortality rate in the early postdischarge period rose significantly for all conditions except COPD, with increases ranging from 1.4% for GIH to 3.8% for stroke. As a consequence, the 30-day mortality declined significantly only for CHF (absolute decline 1.4%, 95% CI, -2.5 to -0.1%) and COPD (absolute decline 1.6%, 95% CI, -2.8-0.0%). For stroke, risk-adjusted 30-day mortality actually increased by 4.3% (95% CI, 1.8-7.1%).


During Cleveland's experiment with hospital report cards, deaths shifted from in hospital to the period immediately after discharge with little or no net reduction in 30-day mortality for most conditions. Hospital profiling remains an unproven strategy for improving outcomes of care for medical conditions. Using in-hospital mortality rates to monitor trends in outcomes for hospitalized patients may lead to spurious conclusions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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