Heart patients in wealthier communities have better chance of getting recommended tx

  1. [font=verdana,geneva,arial,helvetica,sans-serif]found at physician's news digest oct 3rd brief:

    [font=verdana,geneva,arial,helvetica,sans-serif]heart patients in wealthier communities have a better chance of getting recommended treatments at their local hospitals than patients in lower-income areas, according to an analysis by gannett news service.
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    using data provided by hospitals to the federal centers for medicare and medicaid services and covering the period of october 2004 through september 2005, gannett news service tracked how frequently u.s. hospitals gave recommended treatments to those suffering from heart attacks and heart failure, and found that the best-performing hospitals are much more concentrated in the nation's higher-income counties. in counties ranking in the lowest 20 percent for median household income, five percent of the hospitals were in the highest of five performance rankings for heart attack patients, while nearly half of them fell into the lowest category; in high-income counties, a quarter of the hospitals were top performers. in addition to the household income of a hospital's home county, there were other indicators associated with hospital performance:
    • medical school affiliation made a dramatic difference in following guidelines, particularly for heart attack patients. among larger teaching hospitals, those with 500 beds or more, more than a third earned top ratings for heart attack treatments, while only three percent were in the lowest performance category.
    • about one in nine rural hospitals fell into the top-scoring category for treating heart attack patients, while more than a third were in the lowest category, and urban hospitals were unlikely to be in the lowest category, with about 13 percent. for heart failure patients, nearly a third of rural hospitals fell into the lowest performance category.
    • nearly half of the hospitals without a current accreditation from the joint commission on accreditation of healthcare organizations were bottom-tier performers for heart failure patients, while 40 percent were bottom-tier performers for treating heart attacks.
    • government-owned and for-profit hospitals generally performed poorly in comparison to hospitals with other ownership arrangements, while church-owned facilities performed well for both types of heart patients studied.
    gannett news service, october 1, 2006
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