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Hospital Could Make a Difference for Senior Loved One

If an older loved one is going into the hospital, it pays to help them do their homework. Research has shown that not all hospitals are equal. Seniors also may need extra assistance if they’ve had a recent hospital stay. That’s when professional caregiving can help.


Q.    My 83-year-old mother is going into the hospital for coronary bypass surgery. Do you think all hospitals are the same or should I shop around? What can I do to help with her recovery?


Sadly, not all hospitals are the same. Patients have on average a 72.5 percent lower chance of dying at the nation’s top-rated hospitals compared with the lowest-rated hospitals, according to the thirteenth annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study, issued recently by HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization.


While overall death rates have declined, the nation's best-performing hospitals were able to reduce their death rates at a much faster rate than poorly performing hospitals, resulting in large state, regional and hospital-to-hospital variations in the quality of patient care, according to the report.


The company derived the 72.5 percent lower chance of dying by comparing death rates involving 17 procedures and conditions in what it determined as the top-rated hospitals compared with the lowest-rated hospitals in the HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America Study.


The HealthGrades study also found that if all hospitals performed at the level of five-star rated hospitals, 232,442 Medicare deaths could potentially have been prevented over the three years studied. More than half of those deaths were associated with four conditions: sepsis (a life-threatening illness caused by systemic response to infection), pneumonia, heart failure and respiratory failure.)


The HealthGrades study of patient outcomes at the nation's approximately 5,000 hospitals is the most comprehensive annual study of its kind, analyzing more than 41 million Medicare hospitalization records from 2007 to 2009. The study examines procedures and conditions ranging from heart valve-replacement surgery to heart attack to pneumonia.


Based on the study, HealthGrades has made available its 2010 quality ratings for all non-federal hospitals in the country at, a website designed to help individuals research and compare local health-care providers.


It will be to your loved one’s benefit to do your homework about hospitals. When your mom has completed her hospital stay, research the resources in your area that can help her successfully rehabilitate. Those could include home health aides and non-medical caregiving services such as those provided by the Home Instead Senior Care® office. Non-medical services include meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, errands and shopping – all tasks that your mom may need help with for a while.


For more information about this study, visit