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Hospital Care: Does Your State Rate?

All states -- even ones at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to hospital care -- have good hospitals and bad hospitals. What do you look for in a good hospital?
By
WebMD Feature

Suffering a heart attack in a state such as Mississippi is likely to be much more dangerous than in Colorado.

In fact, a new report shows where you live may play a major role in the quality of hospital care you get for various conditions.

The sixth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study shows the quality of healthcare at the nation's hospitals varies greatly among states.

Researchers ranked each of the country's nearly 5,000 hospitals on 26 common procedures and conditions and found better-performing hospitals tended to be in northern or sparsely populated states.

Here's how the 50 states and District of Columbia fared:

Rank

State

1

North Dakota

2

Florida

3

Ohio

4

Michigan

5

Maryland

6

Colorado

7

Pennsylvania

8

Connecticut

9

Utah

10

South Dakota

11

Virginia

12

Minnesota

13

Arizona

14

Montana

15

New Jersey

16

Maine

17

Illinois

18

Rhode Island

19

Washington

20

Indiana

21

Oregon

22

Washington, D.C.

23

New Hampshire

24

Idaho

25

California

26

Massachusetts

27

Missouri

28

Louisiana

29

North Carolina

30

Texas

31

New Mexico

32

Nebraska

33

New York

34

Kentucky

35

Delaware

36

Nevada

37

Georgia

38

Wisconsin

39

Alaska

40

Iowa

41

West Virginia

42

South Carolina

43

Wyoming

44

Hawaii

45

Oklahoma

46

Vermont

47

Kansas

48

Tennessee

49

Arkansas

50

Alabama

51

Mississippi

Hospital Care, State by State

"The quality chasm at American hospitals is real, and it is very alarming and concerning -- despite evidence of process improvements," says Samantha Collier, MD, HealthGrades' vice president of medical affairs, in a news release.

Although there are exceptional hospitals in even the lowest-ranking states, researchers say that, on average, patients get better quality healthcare in the higher-ranking states.

For example, the report shows that a person has a 55% increased chance of dying if he or she had a balloon angioplasty or other similar heart procedure in Texas rather than in New York.

"In Mississippi, your chance of dying from a heart attack is 49% higher, on average, than if you were treated in Colorado," says Collier.

Researchers say that the greatest differences at the state level were among certain heart procedures, such as balloon angioplasty, stenting, and others. For these procedures, New York was the best performing state and Alaska was the worst.

The report shows states such as Texas and Tennessee also had above-average death rates associated with these procedures -- which resulted in hundreds of unnecessary deaths between 2000 and 2002, researchers say. Meanwhile, hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Florida had lower-than-normal death rates associated with these procedures that prevented many deaths.

A complete list of rankings for each of the 26 procedures studied at almost 5,000 hospitals is available at www.healthgrades.com.

Researchers compiled the rankings based on whether the patient outcomes at the various hospitals were better or worse than could normally be expected. A five-star rating reflects performance significantly better than expected, three stars reflects an average level of performance, and a one-star rating reflects care that was significantly worse than expected.

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