Hospital Performance Report 2002 - News Release


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or


Harrisburg, PA - October 29, 2003 - Infections and other, often-preventable complications led to more than 12,000 hospital readmissions in Pennsylvania last year, according to a new government report out today. These readmissions cost the health care delivery system an additional $410 million in hospital charges and contributed to 93,000 extra days in the hospital. The latest Hospital Performance Report from the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) includes information covering 28 medical and surgical categories - PHC4 researchers analyzed readmission data from 18 of those treatment categories. The report includes risk-adjusted mortality rates, lengths of hospitalization (stay), readmission rates and hospital charges for patients admitted to 168 Pennsylvania hospitals from October 1, 2001 through September 30, 2002. Data for an additional 43 treatment categories is posted on the PHC4 website (

"Clearly there is work to be done in these critical patient safety areas like complications and infection," stated Marc P. Volavka, Executive Director for PHC4. "Having said that, it is important to note that mortality rates in Pennsylvania hospitals have dropped below national averages in recent years, so quality of care remains high in many areas."

Readmission rates for complications or infection increased slightly in 5 of the 8 categories where two years of data were available. Among the conditions reported, Hemorrhagic Stroke had the highest readmission rate for complications or infection at 7.7%, and Poisoning and Toxic Effects of Drugs had the lowest rate at 0.9%. Readmission rates for any reason increased slightly in 5 of the 8 categories where two years of readmission rates were available.

Among hospitals, there was substantial variation in readmission rates for complications or infection, as well as with readmissions for any reason. For example, hospitals' readmission rates for complications or infection for Stomach and Intestinal Bleeding ranged from 0% to 44.5%. The state average was 4.7%. Moreover, hospitals' readmission rates for any reason for Diabetes with Amputation ranged from 0% to 66.9%. The state average there was 23.5%.

There was also wide variation in length of stay among hospitals. The condition with the most variation was Diabetes with Amputation, where hospitals' average length of stay ranged from 4.9 to 17.7 days after taking patient risk factors into account.

There were only slight changes in mortality rates during the reporting period. Mortality rates decreased in 5 and increased in 6 of the categories where two years of mortality data were available. The largest decrease was seen in medical treatment for heart attack, where mortality dropped from 14.9% in 2001 to 14.4% in 2002.

"These findings may be the tip of the iceberg, given that we reported on only 18 readmission categories," stated Mr. Volavka. "The patient safety data that PHC4 has begun to report back to hospitals, under new statutory requirements, can assist hospitals in pinpointing areas for quality improvement."

The Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) is an independent state agency charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting information that can be used to improve the quality and restrain the cost of health care in Pennsylvania. Copies of the Hospital Performance Report, as well as hospital comments, are free and are available on the Council's website at or by calling PHC4 at 717-232-6787.