Background: There are urban-rural differences in health care utilization in Kansas. This study was conducted to determine if similar differences exist in the quality of inpatient care provided for patients with acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods: All acute care hospitals in the state were stratified into 12 urban, 31 semirural, and 76 rural hospitals according to their location. Data from medical records of 2521 Medicare patients 65 years and older who had survived AMI and were discharged alive from hospitals during an 8-month period in 1994/1995 were abstracted. The measures of the quality of care (quality indicators [QIs]) were the use of aspirin (during hospital stay and at discharge) and the administration of beta-blockers, intravenous (IV) nitroglycerin, heparin, and reperfusion by thrombolytic therapy or primary angioplasty.
Results: A significantly higher proportion of ideal candidates for the use of aspirin during hospital stay and at discharge, heparin, and IV nitroglycerin received these medications in urban hospitals, and a lower proportion of similar patients received these medications in rural hospitals compared with the patients in semirural hospitals (P<.001). Similar trends in each of the 6 QIs were observed for less than ideal patients (P<.05). Patient age was associated with a relatively poor quality of care in terms of the 6 QIs. Except for the administration of IV nitroglycerine to less than ideal patients, age adjustments did not change the observed urban-rural differences in the QI measures.
Conclusion: Relatively poor quality of care for patients with AMI was provided by rural hospitals where greater opportunity for improvement exists.