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Study: Hospitals that spend more on emergency care see fewer deaths

Stockbyte | Thinkstock

Stockbyte | Thinkstock

Hospitals that spend more on emergency care see a lower mortality rate than those that spend less.

This finding is from a new study from an MIT healthcare scholar, which contrasts other recent studies that suggest higher spending does not necessarily result in better outcomes.

“If the question is, ‘Do high-spending hospitals get better outcomes for emergency care?’—we think that they do,” said the author of the study, MIT economist Joseph Doyle, according to MIT News. “We do find that if you go from a low-spending hospital to a high-spending hospital, you get significantly lower mortality rates.”

The study shows that increasing emergency care spending by one standard deviation will show a 10 percent reduction in mortality.

Doyle published his findings, “Measuring Returns to Hospital Care: Evidence from Ambulance Referral Patterns,” in the Journal of Political Economy, and the report is based on ambulance-dispatch patterns in New York State. The research looked at patients from 40 similar geographic areas that were taken to different hospitals by ambulance with 29 types of serious illnesses. Medicare billing data for all was then examined to see what medical services was provided to each.

Doyle says that “at a bare minimum, our research suggests more caution in that interpretation,” referring to studies finding that spending doesn’t affect outcomes. Other researchers are calling the research an important addition to this controversial topic.

We want to hear from you—have you seen better care in hospitals where you’ve worked that spend more? Do you find the care is not dependent on the amount spent? Let us know in the comments below!

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