Sunday, March 28, 1999

Hospital costs, stays vary widely


Differences found even as networks grow

BY TIM BONFIELD
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INFOGRAPHIC
Hospital comparison
        Even though most big Tristate hospitals have joined larger systems in recent years, costs and outcomes of care still vary widely.

        A report from the Health Improvement Collaborative of Greater Cincinnati reveals that length of stay for respiratory diseases can vary as much as 66 percent depending where patients get care. Average charges can range from $4,600 to more than $11,000.

        The health collaborative's report started three years ago with data only on overall hospital market trends. The report released this month is the first to offer at least some hospital-by-hospital comparisons.

        This year's report compared performance on respiratory diseases, which include asthma, emphysema, and pneumonia. This is one of the largest categoriesof illnesses treated by hospitals, accounting for about 10 percent of all admissions. These diseases also result in some of the longest, most expensive hospital stays, said Nancy Strassel, collaborative spokeswoman.

        Even after accounting for severity, the report found that lengths of stay ranged 66 percent, from 3.6 days at McCullough-Hyde Memorial Hospital in Oxford to six days at the Christ and Deaconess hospitals in Cincinnati.

        The differences may indicate that the severity adjustment isn't accurate enough. But at least some of the variation reflects real differences in the way hospitals and physicians provide care, said Dr. Richard Smith, senior vice president of clinical development and quality at TriHealth.

        However, every hospital studied came in at or below its expected mortality rate for respiratory disease.

        In future months, the collaborative plans to issue more specific service reports, including one that compares maternity services. The group plans to issue overall hospital updates every six months.

       



Will Spenser grow old with the rest of us?
Crosby, Collins cases echo from shooting death
Justin's case 'one in a million'
For some birth mothers, open adoption eases pain of loss
- Hospital costs, stays vary widely
Don't worry, Bill will be back
A wonderful day a the races
Race fans: Name lacks flavor of Jim Beam
CSO's next season salutes 20th century
Cincinnati Symphony schedule for 1999-2000
Cincinnati Symphony subscription information
Prime-time cartoon craze
Tennille stages return with 'Victor/Victoria'
A new kind of March madness
Every once in a while, politics can be fun
PIP mural stars face their faces
A lesson in safety: The train always wins
Answers in Genesis: Not just a museum
Cities win back right to ticket
Dayton turns on lights for Erica
Democrats envy GOP youth wave
McConnell basks in spotlight
Party backs 8 Democrats for city council
School lunch now healthful
TRISTATE DIGEST
United Way's 'vision councils' stress collaboration