Objective: To examine the relationship of in-hospital and 30-day mortality rates and the association between in-hospital mortality and hospital discharge practices.
Data sources/study setting: A secondary analysis of data for 13,834 patients with congestive heart failure who were admitted to 30 hospitals in northeast Ohio in 1992-1994.
Design: A retrospective cohort study was conducted.
Data collection: Demographic and clinical data were collected from patients' medical records and were used to develop multivariable models that estimated the risk of in-hospital and 30-day (post-admission) mortality. Standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) for in-hospital and 30-day mortality were determined by dividing observed death rates by predicted death rates.
Principal findings: In-hospital SMRs ranged from 0.54 to 1.42, and six hospitals were classified as statistical outliers (p <.05); 30-day SMRs ranged from 0.63 to 1.73, and seven hospitals were outliers. Although the correlation between in-hospital SMRs and 30-day SMRs was substantial (R = 0.78, p < .001), outlier status changed for seven of the 30 hospitals. Nonetheless, changes in outlier status reflected relatively small differences between in-hospital and 30-day SMRs. Rates of discharge to nursing homes or other inpatient facilities varied from 5.4 percent to 34.2 percent across hospitals. However, relationships between discharge rates to such facilities and in-hospital SMRs (R = 0.08; p = .65) and early post-discharge mortality rates (R = 0.23; p = .21) were not significant.
Conclusions: SMRs based on in-hospital and 30-day mortality were relatively similar, although classification of hospitals as statistical outliers often differed. However, there was no evidence that in-hospital SMRs were biased by differences in post-discharge mortality or discharge practices.