Mortality rates relatively unaffected by hospital closures

Concerns that hospital closures affect patient mortality rates may be unfounded, according to study published in Health Affairs.

Researchers identified 195 hospital closures in the U.S. between 2003 and 2011 and compared the annual patient mortality rates in hospital service areas with one or more closure with HSAs that didn't experience any hospital closures.

They found no significant difference between the mortality rates. In HSAs that experienced at least one hospital closure, the mortality rate dropped from 5.5 percent to 5.2 percent from 2003 to 2011. In HSAs that did not experience a hospital closure, the mortality rate remained the same at 5.4 percent from 2003 to 2011.

Additionally, all-cause mortality rates following hospitalization saw little change from 2003 to 2011, from 9.1 percent to 8.2 percent in HSAs with a closure versus 9.0 percent to 8.4 percent in those without a closure.

HSAs with a closure did experience a considerable drop — 19.4 percent to 18.2 percent — in readmission rates, which HSAs without a closure did not experience to the same degree (18.8 percent to 18.3 percent).

The trends the researchers discovered held true for rural areas and areas in which all hospital beds in an HSA were closed.

They study authors suggest two possible reasons why hospital closures had little effect on mortality rates; the hospitals that closed may have been of lower quality or may not have been able to compete in their markets. They concluded, "Overall, our findings suggest that existing structures of markets and competition may work reasonably well in selecting hospitals for closure."



More articles on mortality rates:
Low 30-day heart attack mortality rates mean better long-term survival rates, study finds
5 ways hospitals can combat the 'weekend effect' of longer stays, higher mortality
49 hospitals with the lowest 30-day mortality rates from pneumonia

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