Friday, May 30, 2008

Measuring care at the end-of-life

To the growing list of hospital report cards, add ConsumerReports, which today released its hospital ratings, based on research into end-of-life care from the Dartmouth Medical School.

ConsumerReports has rated hospitals as relatively more aggressive or more conservative in providing care for elderly persons during the last two years of their lives, a time when patients typically have multiple hospital admissions.

This report card suggests that more aggressive care is not always better, according to today's report in The Post-Standard. Dr. David Goodman, a co-author of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, is quoted in today's New York Times:

The general principle is that greater intensity of care is not better, and at the high end can actually be harmful.
ConsumerReports measures how aggressive hospitals are when treating congestive heart failure, lung disease, cancer, dementia, heart disease, kidney failure, circulatory disease, diabetes and liver disease.

At 37% Community General is ranked as being more conservative than the other Syracuse hospitals in the care of elderly patients during their final years of life.

The charts in this morning's Post-Standard are not available on-line, so I created the accompanying graph from the newspaper data to show the relative differences among Syracuse hospitals. Higher percentages mean "more aggressive care in the final two years of life for persons over age 65."

If you'd like to see the ratings of the Syracuse area hospitals, go directly to this link: ConsumerReports.

For comparison purposes, I checked the ConsumerReports site to see how the Mayo Clinic's hospitals were rated. There are two Mayo hospitals in Rochester, MN, and here are their scores:

- Rochester Methodist Hospital, 42%

- St. Mary's Hospital, 28%

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