Teaching vs Non-Teaching Hospitals: Mortality Rates Compared

HealthDay News — Older adults treated at major teaching facilities are less likely to die in the weeks and months following their discharge than patients admitted to community hospitals, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study involved 21,451,824 hospitalizations of Medicare beneficiaries from 2012 through 2014 from 4,483 hospitals across the United States. The investigators looked at 7-, 30- and 90-day mortality rates for all hospitalizations at major and minor teaching hospitals and non-teaching hospitals. They also looked at mortality rates for 15 common medical conditions, such as pneumonia and stroke, and 6 surgical procedures, including hip replacement and coronary artery bypass graft.

The researchers found that across all measures, major teaching hospitals either had lower mortality or there was no significant difference. Overall, the likelihood of dying within 30 days of being admitted for care was 1.5% lower at major teaching facilities compared with non-teaching hospitals. After adjusting for patient and hospital characteristics that could influence the data, the difference was still 1.2%.

That means “for every 84 patients treated at a major teaching hospital that otherwise would have gone to a non-teaching hospital, one fewer patient dies,” lead author Laura Burke, MD, MPH, of the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health in Boston, told HealthDay. If mortality rates at non-teaching hospitals were similar to major teaching facilities, there would be roughly 58,000 fewer deaths per year among these patients, she said.

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Burke LG, Frakt AB, Khullar D, Orav EJ, Jha AK. Association between teaching status and mortality in US hospitals. JAMA. 2017;317:2105-2113. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.5702