When the All Saints Come Marching In

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  • 07/03/2007
You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.

-- Abraham Lincoln

When the government issues health care statistics there are usually two general responses from the constituencies that are influenced – “this shows a problem,” or “the study is flawed.” And what ensues is a blame game, a political, polemical battle of op-eds and spin. What rarely happens is that all sides consider the implications of the numbers and use them to advance the public health. There are many examples of this, perhaps the best known being the debate over the Part D drug benefit.

But a new study, just released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), is breaking the mold. And it’s about time. The report, based data on Medicare patients who died from heart failure between July 2005 and June 2006, ranks hospitals as to whether they fall above or below the average and the results are available and searchable on a federal Web site (www.hospitalcompare.hhs.gov) that compares mortality rates among the nation's more than 4,000 medical facilities.

Needless to say, those scoring well crowed and those falling below the national average started the spin cycle. Examples were not hard to find – that’s not news. What is important to discuss, on the other hand, is how some hospitals dealt with their below-average ranking. As I searched through the CMS database, I was surprised to find Baylor All Saints Medical Centers at Fort Worth Texas on the “below average” side. Having followed Baylor Health Care System over the years for a variety of reasons, I decided to look a little closer.

Here's the rest of the story:

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The take-away?

"... if we want people to take more responsibility for their own health – those in the business of health care must as well. Do as I say, not as I do just doesn’t cut it when it comes to advancing America’s health."

The price of greatness is responsibility.

-- Winston Churchill

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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