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Costly Hospital Care Doesn't Guarantee Better-Quality Care: Study

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Patients treated at hospitals that provide more intensive and costly care don't necessarily receive better-quality care, according to a U.S. study that looked at care given to Medicare beneficiaries with heart attack, pneumonia and congestive heart failure.

The researchers looked at end-of-life (EOL) spending at 2,172 hospitals and found that average EOL spending per patient was $16,059 for the lowest-spending quintile (or fifth) of hospitals, compared to $34,742 at hospitals in the highest-spending quintile.

"We found no evidence that hospitals with higher spending provided better care, whether we looked at all hospitals across the country or limited our study to academic medical centers, or hospitals within a single region. In fact, in some cases, hospitals that spent more provided worse care," Laura Yasaitis, a joint M.D./Ph.D. student at Dartmouth Medical School and a researcher at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, said in a news release.

"The fact that some hospitals in the same region are able to provide exemplary care at lower costs points to the need for better reporting of both costs and quality, and for a greater understanding of what processes lead to this improvement in performance," Amitabh Chandra, professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School, said in the release.

The study appears online in the journal Health Affairs.

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