The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services created Hospital Compare in partnership with the Hospital Quality Alliance to provide consumer-friendly information on hospital quality, patient experiences and other metrics. The new information shows how often Medicare patients with heart failure or another condition return to the same hospital or a different hospital within 30 days of their initial stay.
Nationally, the 30-day readmission rate for heart failure is 24.7 percent, according to Hospital Compare. The Cleveland Clinic's rate, at 28 percent, is worse than the national rate.
The same database shows that Cleveland Clinic's 30-day death rate for Medicare patients with heart failure, at 8.8 percent, is better than the national rate of 11.2 percent.
Researchers thought that was curious and wondered whether there might be some relationship between readmissions and mortality.
In an analysis of Hospital Compare data for 3,857 hospitals, they found that a higher occurrence of readmissions after the initial hospitalization for heart failure was associated with a lower, risk-adjusted 30-day death rate.
The authors conclude that this relationship between readmission and death rates needs to be investigated further.
Denise Love, executive director of the National Association of Health Data Organizations in Salt Lake City, agreed with the Cleveland Clinic team on that point.
"This needs to be investigated further and we need to improve it," Love said. But the government shouldn't stop reporting readmissions, she added. "It's something we need to look at because it's costing a lot of money, and it's causing a lot of patient burden," she said.
And as with any quality-of-care metric, "If you don't measure it, you're not going to improve it," she said.
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