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U.S. Hospitals Vary Widely in Caring for Women

From birth complications to heart disease, top-rated centers a better choice, health study concludes

TUESDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Women who give birth at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications for Caesarean section and fewer complications for vaginal birth, according to a HealthGrades study that compared the quality of maternity and cardiac/stroke care for women at U.S. hospitals in 17 states.

This is the fifth annual Women's Health in American Hospitals study released by HealthGrades, a health care ratings organization.

The study found that:

  • Among women who had vaginal birth, there were almost 51 percent fewer complications at the best-performing hospitals than at poor-performing hospitals.
  • Among women who had Caesarean sections, there were almost 76 percent fewer complications at the best-performing hospitals than at poor-performing hospitals.
  • Overall, the risk-adjusted cardiovascular disease death rate for women decreased almost 15 percent from 2004 through 2006.
  • The risk-adjusted cardiovascular disease death rate among women at the best-performing hospitals was almost 40 percent lower than at poor-performing hospitals and 22 percent lower than at average-performing hospitals.

"The impact of women's health on the U.S. health care system is tremendous, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all hospital admissions," lead author Dr. Samantha Collier, chief medical officer at HealthGrades, said in a prepared statement.

"It is imperative, based on the huge differences in the quality identified in our study, that women research their local hospital's clinical outcomes before choosing where to receive their care," she said.

The analysis of maternity care included more than 12.5 million hospital delivery and newborn records from 2004 through 2006 in 17 states. The analysis of cardiac/stroke care included more than one million hospitalizations over the same three-year period.

More information

The National Women's Health Information Center has more about women's health.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: HealthGrades, news release, June 24, 2008

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