Are Some Hospitals Less Life-Saving Than Others?

Your chances of surviving a heart attack could be significantly affected by the hospital you get sent to, an Australian research team has discovered. The amount of variation in acute coronary syndrome (ACS) care in A/NZ emergency rooms was found to be alarmingly high, which can impede the delivery of timely and effective care for heart attack sufferers.

Defibrillator picture from Shutterstock

In the Snapshot ACS report, cardiovascular researchers analysed ACS data from 4,398 patients spread across 286 Australian and New Zealand hospitals between 14 and 27 May 2012. They discovered that the level of care delivered and the outcomes for patients varied significant from hospital to hospital.

“Despite national and international evidence-based guidelines, what we found is that whilst there are certainly some pockets of excellence, overall, significant variation in care is all too common, which is likely to be impacting upon patient outcomes,” explained head researcher Professor David Brieger.

Availability and coordination of services were found to be unsatisfactory in some areas of Australia, with smaller hospitals less likely to deliver recommended care compared to major hospital centres. Variations in classification and jurisdiction also played a significant part.

So which hospitals are the worst offenders and which are the most likely to save your life? Unfortunately, the report failed to give any specifics. We spoke to the report’s corresponding author Professor Derek Chew, who indicated that specific hospitals would not be made public to protect the personal information of patients in the study.

The report concludes that a focus on integrated clinical service delivery may provide greater translation of evidence to practice and improve ACS outcomes in Australia and New Zealand.

A Snapshot of ACS care in Australia and New Zealand [Medical Journal of Australia]

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