The association between hospital outcomes and diagnostic imaging: early findings

J Am Coll Radiol. 2009 Nov;6(11):780-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jacr.2009.08.007.


Purpose: Resource use variation across the United States prompts the important question of whether "more is better" when it comes to health care services. The aim of this study was to examine correlations between the use of 4 common imaging modalities (CT, MR, ultrasound, and radiography) and in-hospital mortality and costs.

Methods: Using clinical and utilization data for 1.1 million inpatient admissions at 102 US hospitals during 2007, two hospital-specific, risk-adjusted imaging utilization measures for each modality were constructed that controlled for patients' demographic and clinical characteristics and for hospital characteristics were constructed for each modality. First, logistic regression was used to estimate the odds that each type of imaging service would be provided during an admission. Second, the mean number of services per admission was estimated using output from a two-part ordinary least squares model. Hospital-specific, risk-adjusted inpatient mortality and total hospital costs were also computed, and correlations between the imaging utilization measures and the mortality and cost outcome measures were then assessed using Pearson's correlation coefficients (P < .05). The correlation analyses were weighted by hospital admission volume.

Results: Hospitals in which patients were more likely to receive imaging services during admissions had lower mortality, even after controlling for potential confounders. Correlation coefficients were -0.2 for all modalities (P = .02-.05). Weaker correlations existed between mean services per admission and mortality, while costs trended insignificantly higher with greater utilization.

Conclusions: This study lays the foundation for further exploration of the relationship between resource use and the clinical and economic outcomes associated with imaging utilization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / economics*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitalization / economics*
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Inpatients / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mortality*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • United States