(Reuters Health)—Academic medical centers, increasingly spurned by insurers for being more expensive than community hospitals, appear to have lower death rates for older adults than other facilities, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers reviewed millions of records for patients aged 65 and older and insured by Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly. They found 8.3% of patients died within 30 days of admission at major teaching hospitals, compared with 9.2% at minor teaching hospitals and 9.5% at community hospitals.
“We found, to our surprise, that across a wide range of medical and surgical conditions, patients at teaching hospitals did better—they were less likely to die,” says senior study author Dr. Ashish Jha of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.
“While mortality may not be the only indicator that matters, it certainly is the most important one,” Jha says by email. “We know that short term mortality is driven largely by how well the hospital does in taking care of patients.”