Ranking the quality of hospitals may not produce accurate results if the ranking is based on heart attack mortality data for older patients.
Hospital rankings based exclusively on heart attack mortality data for older patients may not accurately represent hospital quality for all ages. A study lead by Yale researchers found that hospital mortality rates after heart attack differ by age, suggesting a need to include data on younger patients in such assessments.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) uses data for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries aged 65 or older to calculate 30-day risk-standardized mortality rates after acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, to rate hospital quality. It is not known if outcomes for older patients reflect outcomes for all patients, including younger ones.
The researchers found that half of the hospitalized heart attack patients were under the age of 65, and that mortality rankings differed for older versus younger patient groups. These findings suggest that hospital rankings based solely on data for older patients are not generalizable and may not provide a complete picture of hospital quality.