State Pulls Hospital Quality Report from Website

9-20-05 - Texas health officials pulled a hospital quality report from a state Web site after finding errors in discharge records that could lower some hospitals' death rates.

The report posted by the Texas Department of State Health early last week failed to account for large numbers of patients transferred to specialized care facilities. The error could lower death rates for conditions such as hip replacement and stroke by up to 5 percent, an analyst with a hospital trade group predicted.

"We found last week that there was a problem with a couple of the indicators," said Sylvia Cook of the department's Texas Health Care Information Collection, which produced the report. "We hope to have it back out by the end of this week, as quickly as possible."

The report, which uses data from 2003 hospital discharges, was pulled late last week after officials discovered two codes used to indicate patient transfers were not included in the report. The two codes indicate transfers to rehabilitation hospitals or long-term care facilities.

When corrected, the report will be available at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/thcic/default.shtm under the heading "Indicators of Inpatient Care in Texas Hospitals."

The error could also change the rates for pneumonia deaths and possibly other conditions, Cook said.

The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, which compiles the records for its member hospitals and sends them to the state health department, discovered the error, said Starr West, director of health care quality for the Texas Hospital Association.

"We knew this (2003) was sort of a transition year, as hospitals were working with a new billing format, that there might be some glitches," West said. "So probably there was more scrutiny this year.


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