Top-ranked hospitals demonstrate worse readmission rates for heart failure, study finds

Top-ranked hospitals for heart care do not always demonstrate better patient outcomes than nonranked hospitals, according to a study published in JAMA Cardiology.

For the study, researchers sought to determine whether hospitals named to U.S. News & World Report's list of best hospitals for cardiology and heart surgery outperformed nonranked hospitals on mortality rates, readmission measures and patient satisfaction scores.

Researchers analyzed data on 3,552 hospitals nationwide between 2017-18. They looked at 30-day mortality and readmission rates for the following three heart conditions: acute myocardial infarction, heart failure and coronary artery bypass grafting. Researchers also examined patient satisfaction data provided by Medicare recipients over age 65 who responded to the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems between 2014-18.

Top-ranked hospitals demonstrated lower 30-day mortality rates across all three heart conditions compared to nonranked hospitals. They also demonstrated similar readmission rates for acute myocardial infarction and coronary artery bypass grafting. However, top-ranked hospitals had higher readmission rates for heart failure than nonranked hospitals. Patient satisfaction was consistently higher at top-ranked hospitals.

"This discrepancy between readmissions and other performance measures raises concern that readmissions may not be an adequate metric of hospital care quality," the researchers concluded.

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