Hospital Performance Report 1998 - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, December 17, 1999 - Mortality rates dropped in 11 of 15 key medical categories at the same time that Pennsylvania hospitals improved efficiencies, according to new figures released today by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4). The report comes just two weeks after the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine released a study which estimated that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die annually from mistakes in hospitals.

"Pennsylvania's annual Hospital Performance Report shows that the overwhelming majority of hospitals are providing good to excellent patient care," said Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director of PHC4. "The Hospital Performance Report, with its risk-adjusted mortality and length of hospitalization data, can help pinpoint hospitals and services where the quality of care is high and others where it might be improved."

The Hospital Performance Report, an annual report card on the quality of hospital services, includes risk-adjusted mortality rates, risk-adjusted average lengths of hospitalization, and average hospital charges for patients admitted for 15 commonmedical procedures and treatments during calendar year 1998. The DRGs were chosendue to a combination of factors, including a high degree of variation in mortality, high volume, significant resource consumption, and diversity across diagnoses and procedures.

Overall, the patient mortality rate dropped by 4.1% across the 15 Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs) with substantial decreases seen in Adult Hip Operations (18%), Vascular Operations (13.3%), Heart Failure and Shock (11.8%). The average length of hospitalization (length of stay) dropped in all 15 DRGs, on average, by 4.2%. Average hospital charges increased by only 1.6%.

In developing the statistics, PHC4 takes into account key health factors, otherwise known as risk factors, for each patient upon admission to the hospital. The rating system gives a certain weight to each risk factor, depending upon its importance, for each inpatient hospitalization. In other words, hospitals that treat sicker patients can be expected to have longer average lengths of stay or higher mortality rates - and such hospitals receive "credit" in the PHC4 methodology. These measures allow patients, providers and purchasers of care to question differences among patients with similar conditions.

"The adjustments for severity of illness or risk allow for an apples to apples comparison of the results of treatment," noted Mr. Volavka. "After these factors have been equalized, differences in length of stay and patient mortality still exist among hospitals that cannot be fully explained bythe illness levels among patients."

"The Institute of Medicine called for the systematic collection and analysis of quality of care-related data," said Mr. Volavka. "Pennsylvanians, through PHC4's reports and data, already have access to more comparative information about provider quality than do most other Americans - and we continue to work on expanding the type of analysis we can do."

Pennsylvania hospitals are required by law to provide this information to the Council. Hospitals may elect to comment on their data before publication of the report, and those comments are published in a separate volume available to the public upon request.

Copies of the report, which is divided into three regional versions, are free and can be ordered by calling the Council at 717-232-6787 or downloaded from the Council's website at

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council is an independent state agency which provides the public with information that can be used to make more informed medical decisions and in so doing, improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania.