Major teaching hospitals have lower mortality rates, study finds

Patients who are admitted to a major teaching hospital are less likely to die than patients admitted to nonteaching hospitals, according to a study published Tuesday by JAMA.


"Academic medical centers are often considered more expensive than community hospitals, and some insurers have excluded AMCs from their networks in an attempt to control costs, assuming that quality is comparable," the study authors wrote.

So researchers from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston set out to see how patient outcomes differ between teaching and nonteaching hospitals, as doing so is "essential to understanding the value of healthcare provided at U.S. teaching institutions."

They used national Medicare data to compare mortality rates for all hospitalizations and for common medical and surgical conditions in teaching and nonteaching hospitals. The sample included nearly 21.5 million hospitalizations at 4,483 hospitals. Of the included hospitals, 250 (5.6 percent) were major teaching hospitals (members of the Council of Teaching Hospitals), 894 (19.9 percent) were minor teaching hospitals and 3,339 (74.3 percent) were nonteaching hospitals.

Adjusted 30-day mortality rates were lowest (8.3 percent) at major teaching hospitals and highest (9.5 percent) at nonteaching hospitals, while minor teaching hospitals had mortality rates at 9.2 percent.

When stratified for size, large (400+ bed) and medium (100 to 399 bed) major teaching hospitals had lower mortality than similarly sized nonteaching hospitals.

The study authors noted more research is needed into why these differences exist.

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