A new independent study lists Utah as one of the top five overall best-performing states in the nation when it comes to saving lives in hospitals.
HealthGrades, an independent health care ratings organization, this week released the 13th annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study, which analyzes nearly 40 million Medicare patient outcomes from hospitalization records over the course of three years.
All 5,000 hospitals in America were included and could not opt in or out of the study, according to the organization's website.
The study looked at a total of 26 procedures and diagnoses, from total knee replacement to bypass surgery. A one-star rating means the hospital performed poorly, three stars is average, and five stars means the hospital outperformed the national average.
The study, which looked at three years, 2007 to 2009, found that patients at five-star-rated hospitals had a 72 percent lower risk of dying than patients treated at a one-star hospital.
The study shows if all hospitals had performed at a five-star rating over the three years, an estimated 232,442 Medicare lives could have been saved. It also found hospital mortality rates declined by 7.98 percent over the three-year period.
Out of the mortality-based procedures and diagnoses studied, only two failed overall: gastrointestinal surgeries and coronary intervention procedures.
In addition, there was an 80 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more complications in a five-star-rated hospital.
In the Top of Utah, all three major hospitals -- McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Ogden Regional Medical Center and Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton -- received a rating of three out of a possible five stars for coronary intervention procedures, which includes angioplasty and stents.
For gastrointestinal surgeries, McKay-Dee Hospital earned five stars, Ogden Regional three stars and Davis Hospital three stars. Ratings for each procedure changed or stayed the same once the patient was released from the hospital.
Chris Dallin, McKay-Dee Hospital public relations director, said for the most part, hospital officials are pleased with the report.
"We are committed to quality care, and our focus is on increasing quality and decreasing costs to the patients we serve," Dallin said.
"We strive to provide the best service to every patient that visits McKay-Dee Hospital. We understand the results show we do well, and if it shows areas that need improvement, we will look into those."
Pamela Bennett, director of clinical quality and safety at MountainStar Healthcare, which owns Ogden Regional, said the hospitals use the information as a way of guiding improvements in care.
"This notable recognition is attributable to caregivers and support staff at every MountainStar hospital who work hard to improve patient care," she said.
"As an example, the quality experts on our clinical councils analyze data to determine best practices at each hospital. They then take steps to implement the most successful quality-improvement measures throughout our entire health care system."
Because Davis Hospital has no contractual agreement with HealthGrades to publicize the information, the hospital declined to comment on these findings, said Joanie Brady, corporate director of marketing for IASIS Healthcare, which owns the hospital and three others in Utah.
Hospitals must pay HealthGrades to use its information in a marketing campaign, she said.
HealthGrades also states there can be enormous quality differences between one hospital and another, especially if one hospital treats more critically ill patients.
When it comes to a blood clot in the lungs, or a pulmonary embolism, McKay-Dee Hospital and Ogden Regional Medical Center received five stars; Davis received three stars.
The treatment of stroke while in the hospital earned Ogden Regional five stars, McKay-Dee and Davis three stars.
Davis Hospital earned five stars for neck and back surgery. McKay-Dee earned three stars, and Ogden Regional was not listed.
For treatment of sepsis, a life-threatening blood infection, McKay-Dee and Davis hospitals received five stars; Ogden Regional received three stars.
Ogden Regional received five stars for carotid surgery, McKay-Dee earned one star, and Davis Hospital was not listed.
All three hospitals received specialty excellence awards. Ogden Regional and McKay-Dee Hospital were both honored for maternity care and patient and pediatric safety.
Davis Hospital received an excellence in general surgery award, and McKay-Dee Hospital received an outstanding patient experience award.
Also, Lakeview Hospital in Bountiful received an award for overall orthopedic services and joint replacement.