Objectives: Teaching hospitals are perceived to provide a higher quality of care for the treatment of rare disease and complex patients. A substantial proportion of stage I palliation for hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) may be performed in nonteaching hospitals. This study compares the in-hospital mortality of stage I palliation between teaching and nonteaching hospitals.
Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective cohort study using the Kids' Inpatient Database 1997 and 2000. Patients with HLHS undergoing stage I palliation were identified using International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification diagnostic and procedural codes.
Results: Seven hundred fifty-four and 880 discharges of children with HLHS undergoing stage I palliation in 1997 and 2000, respectively, were identified. The in-hospital mortality for the study population was 28% in 1997 and 24% in 2000. Twenty percent of stage I palliation operations were performed in nonteaching hospitals in 1997. Two percent of operations were performed in nonteaching hospitals in 2000. In 1997 only, in-hospital mortality remained higher in nonteaching hospitals after controlling for stage I palliation hospital volume and condition-severity diagnoses. Low-volume hospitals performing stage I palliation were associated with increased in-hospital mortality in 1997 and 2000.
Conclusions: Patients with HLHS undergoing stage I palliation in nonteaching hospitals experienced increased in-hospital mortality in 1997. A significant reduction in the number of stage I palliation procedures performed in nonteaching hospitals occurred between 1997 and 2000. This centralization of stage I palliation into teaching hospitals, along with advances in postoperative medical and surgical care for these children, was associated with a decrease in mortality. Patients in low-volume hospitals performing stage I palliation continued to experience increased mortality in 2000.