New York Times' Report Says Dartmouth Atlas Flawed

The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which tracks wasteful hospital spending across the country, has methodological flaws casting doubts on its conclusions, according to a report by the New York Times.

The Atlas has become a key data source for health reform. The Obama administration proposes to use its findings to penalize inefficient hospitals and reward efficient ones, and Donald Berwick, MD, the nominee to run Medicare, called the Atlas the most important research of its kind in the last quarter-century.

However, "there is little evidence to support the widely held view, shaped by the Dartmouth researchers, that the nation's best hospitals tend to be among the least expensive," the Times concluded in its lengthy article.

The Times said hospital rankings developed by researchers at Dartmouth College for the Atlas focus on spending and do not account for care that prolongs or improves lives.

Dartmouth’s rankings, for example, put New Jersey highest in costs per Medicare beneficiary, but its quality of care, independent of cost, is second-highest, after Vermont.

Read the New York Times' report on hospital costs.  

See two Atlas maps on spending and quality.


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