An extensive study of Medicare patients in California hospitals found that the more money spent on the care of the patients, the lower the mortality rate, according to Health Leaders Media.
The study, which was limited to patients with six common medical conditions, was published in this month’s Annals of Internal Medicine.
The study found that higher patient survival was linked with higher spending for each of the diagnoses.
Data was analyzed from Medicare patients who suffered from stroke, pneumonia, hip fracture, congestive hearth failure, gastrointestinal hemorrhage and acute myocardial infarction. The scope of the study included spending data from 208 hospitals over 9 years.
According to the study, during 1999 to 2003, for example, patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction to California hospitals in the highest quintile of hospital spending had lower inpatient mortality than did those admitted to hospitals in the lowest. The prediction of inpatient deaths would increase by 1,831 if all patients admitted with acute myocardial infarction were cared for in hospitals in the lowest quintile of spending rather than the highest.
John Romley, of the Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California, is lead author of the study. He says he and his colleagues worked to control factors like patient health status and hospital teaching affiliation.
The study contradicts findings from a previous Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care that spearheaded much of what is being looked at in healthcare reform regulations, that expensive care is not necessarily better care, and may in fact be worse care.
“If the results are real … that would suggest these reductions across the board in hospital spending might lead to worse outcomes for some patients,” Romley told Reuters Health. That doesn’t mean cuts wouldn’t still be cost-effective, if money elsewhere could better improve public health. But, he added, “it is important to understand the trade-offs.”