Purpose: To compare the quality of care in teaching hospitals with that in nonteaching hospitals.
Method: By performing a literature review via PubMed, the author identified and surveyed 23 studies that compared the quality of care in teaching hospitals with that in nonteaching hospitals. The studies were published from 1989-2004 and in all but one case dealt exclusively with U.S. hospitals.
Results: The teaching hospitals studied had better-quality measures than did nonteaching hospitals in the predominant number of studies reviewed. Process measures were significantly better in teaching hospitals in seven of the eight studies where such measures were observed, and equal in the other study. Risk-adjusted mortality was lower in teaching hospitals in nine of the 15 studies using that measure, not significantly different in five, and significantly lower in nonteaching hospitals in one study (in pediatric intensive care units, even though the teaching hospitals had a better process of care). In nonmortality outcomes, teaching hospitals were better in one study using that measure; there were no significant differences in five other such studies. Major teaching hospitals had more favorable outcomes end points than did minor teaching hospitals in eight studies in which they were compared. Including only those six studies using clinical data for process analysis or risk adjustment, teaching hospitals had a better process in all six and lower adjusted mortality in five of seven studies where that measure was used.
Conclusions: Overall, the favorable results in teaching hospitals extended over a range of locations, conditions, and populations, including routine as well as complex conditions. However, the quality measured in these studies was not at target levels across the spectrum of hospitals. There needs to be a continuous and determined effort for improvement in all institutions. It is to be hoped that teaching hospitals will take the lead not only in continuously improving their own quality, but also in developing and evaluating ever improving methods of quality assessment.