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Study looks at deaths after surgery

New York Times, October 1, 2009

Researchers examining 84,730 people who underwent inpatient surgery at 186 hospitals from 2005 to 2007 found that death rates varied widely from hospital to hospital, from 3.5% to 6.9%. But complication rates did not vary significantly: 24.6% of patients at the high-death hospitals experienced complications after surgery, compared with 26.9% of the patients at the hospitals with the lowest death rates. The discrepancy suggests that how a hospital responds to complications may be even more important than the frequency of complications, according to the report prepared by the Michigan Surgical Collaborative for Outcomes Research and Evaluation.