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Readmissions increase at Pennsylvania hospitals, but mortality declines

The patient mortality rate at Pennsylvania hospitals decreased significantly from 2002 through 2009, although the  readmission rate increased considerably, according to the state’s annual Hospital Performance Report.

The report, released by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council, found that patient mortality for 20 conditions fell from 5.1 percent in 2002 to 4.1 percent in 2009. The overall readmission rate for 15 conditions during the same time period increased significantly from 18.3 percent in 2002 to 19.2 percent in 2009.

However, the overall readmission rate in Pennsylvania has plateaued in recent years, as the 2009 rate of 19.2 percent is not significantly different from the 2004 rate of 19 percent, said Joe Martin, the PHC4’s executive director.

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“The report illustrates the importance of preventing infections and reducing complications to every extent possible since nearly 40 percent of readmissions can be attributed to these causes,” said Martin.

For the 21 categories for which readmissions were reported for 2009, there were 58,084 readmissions for any reason in 2009, resulting in approximately $2.6 billion in charges and 343,000 hospital days.

Complications or infections were the cause of 21,688 of these readmissions, which accounted for $1.1 billion in charges and 150,000 hospital days. Hospitals receive less in actual payments than the listed charge. Payments are generally one-fourth of charges.

The Hospital Performance Report includes information about risk-adjusted mortality, readmissions, lengths of stay and hospital charges for patients admitted to 158 Pennsylvania hospitals from Oct. 1, 2008 to Sept. 30, 2009.

The report evaluates hospital performance across 31 common medical procedures and treatments. When looking at individual treatment categories, patient mortality rates decreased significantly in 15 of the 20 conditions consistently reported between 2002 and 2009.

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of healthcare in Pennsylvania.