Odds of Survival Much Higher at Top U.S. Hospitals

The odds of coming out alive from top-tier U.S. hospitals are significantly higher than at the bulk of the nation’s medical facilities, a new report reveals.

Medicare patients at hospitals ranked in the top 5 percent have a 27 percent lower chance of dying and a 14 percent lower risk of developing complications.

The conclusion, by an independent healthcare ratings company called HealthGrades, was based on an examination of nearly 39 million hospitalizations of Medicare recipients in 2002, 2003 and 2004 at all 5,122 of the nation's nonfederal hospitals.

According to the National Academy of Science, which sites separate studies, somewhere between 44,000 and 98,000 people die every year due to medical errors in U.S. medical facilities.

The  new study is the fourth annual put out by the rating company.

"The data in this year's study indicate a clear and profound divergence between the best hospitals and all others," said Samantha Collier, an MD and HealthGrades' vice president of medical affairs. “This growing 'quality chasm' is of concern to healthcare professionals and patients alike."

HealthGrades profits by selling the full results of its surveys to insurance companies and to physicians and health care facilities that wish to market their high rankings.

You can get basic ranking information from the company on physicians and hospitals in your area here.