U.S. for-profit hospitals show higher mortality rates than non-profits, analysis shows

HAMILTON, Ont. -- A study of data from more than 26,000 U.S. hospitals covering outcomes of 38 million patients has shown that people treated in private for-profit hospitals in the U.S. have a greater risk of dying than those cared for in private not-for-profit hospitals.

The study, carried out by researchers from McMaster University in Hamilton, the University at Buffalo and University of Toronto, appears in the May 28 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The researchers undertook the meta-analysis of mortality statistics to help inform the debate underway in Canada over whether to move into the for-profit health-care-delivery arena.

"Most of the debate so far has focused on economics," said P. J. Devereaux, M.D., research fellow in the departments of Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at McMaster University and lead author on the study. "The emphasis has been on determining if for-profit hospitals can contain costs and run more efficiently; if having for-profits would create 'two-tier medicine,' and on the potential for foreign investors to become involved and influence Canadian health policy in light of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement).

"What has been missing from this debate is how expansion of private for-profit hospitals would affect patients," he said. "We undertook the study to find out the relative impact of private for-profit versus private not-for-profit delivery of hospital care on patient mortality."

Private not-for-profit hospitals are owned by religious organizations, communities, regional health authorities or hospital boards. For-profit hospitals are owned by shareholders or investors.

To conduct their review, the researchers systematically identified all relevant studies that compared private for-profit with private not-for-profit hospital mortality. They ended up analyzing 15 studies containing data from approximately 38 million patients hospi

Contact: John Della Contrada
716-645-5000 x1409
University at Buffalo

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