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Massachusetts hospital ratings complicate care of sickest

Boston Globe, April 1, 2009

Public reporting of hospital death rates may be pushing Massachusetts cardiac specialists to treat some very sick heart patients less aggressively. The trend has sparked a debate among health officials and doctors over whether patients are being spared unnecessary and costly end-of-life treatment or denied procedures that might save their lives. The disagreement has intensified since state health officials recently flagged Massachusetts General Hospital and Saint Vincent Hospital in Worcester for having higher-than-average death rates in heart patients receiving artery-opening stents.