Study: Rural patients face higher hospital mortality rates than urban counterparts

Patients living in rural areas of the United States had a greater chance of hospital mortality than their urban counterparts in 2013, according to a study published in JABFM.

Patients who live in rural areas have higher rates of early and preventable deaths outside of hospitals than their urban counterparts, the study noted. However, the connection between rural areas and hospital mortality is still unknown. The authors sought to determine the association between hospital mortality in rural versus urban areas.

Researchers gathered data from 4.4 million hospital admissions from 2008, excluding maternal and neonatal admissions, and compared that data to 3.8 million similar admissions in 2013, using all-payer, all-age data from the National Inpatient Sample of the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.

They then reported the association between rural versus urban residence and hospital mortality and adjusted for chronic disease burden, age, income and insurance status.

From 2008-13, urban hospital mortality rates decreased from 2.51 percent to 2.27 percent. Rural hospitals showed no improvement and remained at a 2.66 percent hospital mortality rate during the same time period, resulting in over 8,000 excess deaths among hospitalized patients from rural areas.

"Explaining excess rural hospital deaths will require further attention to the patient, community, and health system factors that distinguish rural from urban populations," the authors concluded.

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