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Growth of cardiac services linked to competition, not improved patient care, study finds
Date:7/10/2013

New interventional cardiac catheterization services offered by U.S. hospitals generally duplicate existing programs and do not help patients gain access to timely emergency cardiac care, according to a new study.

Examining new cardiac catheterization programs nationally from 2004 to 2008, researchers found the programs were most likely to be introduced in areas that had existing services, near populations that had higher rates of private health insurance and in states where there is little oversight of hospitals.

The findings are published online by the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

"New interventional cardiac catheterization programs have not been located in areas where they can help patients gain timely access to needed heart services. Instead, the focus has been on competing with other hospitals," said Thomas W. Concannon, the study's lead author and a policy researcher at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. "The widespread expansion of this service has added significantly to health care costs and there is now strong evidence that it has not improved patient care."

Cardiac catheterization laboratories can provide life-saving treatment by allowing doctors to open clogged heart arteries that may trigger a heart attack. Although about 80 percent of the nation's population lives within a 60-minute drive of a catheterization laboratory, fewer than half of the patients who suffer heart attacks get access to the treatment in an emergency.

The new study is the first to examine the growth of cardiac catheterization laboratories over time, allowing investigators to assess whether new programs duplicate existing services and identify the factors associated with the decision to introduce a new program.

Researchers found that while the number of cardiac catheterization programs at the nation's 4,544 acute care hospitals increased by 16.5 percent from 2004 to 2008, the percenta
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Contact: Warren Robak
robak@rand.org
310-451-6913
RAND Corporation
Source:Eurekalert

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