ARCHIVES OF INTERNAL MEDICINE
Vol 171 #17 - Sept 26, 2011
Marcella Nunez-Smith, MD, MHS; Elizabeth H. Bradley, PhD; Jeph Herrin, PhD; Calie Santana, MD, MHS; Leslie A. Curry, PhD, MPH; Sharon-Lise T. Normand, PhD;Harlan M. Krumholz, MD, SM
Health care quality in the US territories is poorly characterized. We used process measures to compare the performance of hospitals in the US territories and in the US States.
Our sample included nonfederal hospitals located in the United States and its territories discharging Medicare fee-for-service (FFS) patients with a principal discharge diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), heart failure (HF), or pneumonia (PNE) (July 2005–June 2008).
We compared risk-standardized 30-day mortality and readmission rates between territorial and stateside hospitals, adjusting for performance on core process measures and hospital characteristics.
Results: In 57 territorial hospitals and 4799 stateside hospitals, hospital mean 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates were significantly higher in the US territories.
Hospital mean 30-day risk-standardized readmission rates (RSRRs) were also significantly higher in the US territories for AMI (20.6% vs 19.8%; P = .04), and PNE (19.4% vs 18.4%; P = .01) but was not significant for HF (25.5% vs 24.5%; P = .07).
The higher risk-standardized mortality rates in the US territories remained statistically significant after adjusting for hospital characteristics and core process measure performance. Hospitals in the US territories had lower performance on all core process measures.
Conclusions: Compared with hospitals in the US states, hospitals in the US territories have significantly higher 30-day mortality rates and lower performance on every core process measure for patients discharged after AMI, HF, and PNE.
Eliminating the substantial quality gap in the US territories should be a national priority.