NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

High Quality Can Coexist with Lower Cost

April 29, 2011

High-quality hospitals deliver lower-cost care to trauma patients, according to a study published in the Annals of Surgery.  The study found high-quality hospitals have death rates that are 34 percent lower, while spending nearly 22 percent less on trauma patient care than average-quality hospitals, suggesting high quality can coexist with lower cost.

  • One possible explanation for the new finding is that higher-quality hospitals may have fewer patient complications compared with lower-quality hospitals.
  • Potentially preventable complications have been shown to result in greater rates of death, hospital length of stay and cost, so fewer complications could translate into cost savings.

"There is a growing recognition that, when it comes to health care, we have a quality problem in this country," says Laurent G. Glance, M.D., lead study author and professor of Anesthesiology and Community and Preventive Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  

  • Glance's team analyzed data from the largest inpatient database in the United States, focusing on 67,124 patients admitted to 73 trauma centers across the country in 2006.
  • Most patients were between 40 and 50 years old, male and admitted to a trauma center following a car crash, fall, gunshot or stab wound, or other type of serious injury.

Source: "High-Quality Care Associated with Lower Cost in Trauma," University of Rochester Medical Center, February 21, 2011.  Laurent G. Glance et al., "The Association Between Cost and Quality in Trauma: Is Greater Spending Associated With Higher-Quality Care?," Annals of Surgery, August 2010.

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