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Cancer Hospitals Study Yields 'Confusing' Findings

   June 05, 2014

Researchers investigating outcomes at accredited and non-accredited cancer hospitals arrive at "murky" conclusions, which may indicate problems with the way the quality of care is measured.

Karl Y. Bilimoria, MD
An Oncology Surgeon at Northwestern University

As might be expected, accredited cancer centers perform better on public process measures and patient experience than non-accredited hospitals. But they performed worse on most of 10 outcome measures such as rates of hospital-acquired infections.

That's the conclusion from a paper published in the June issue of the Annals of Surgery by Karl Y. Bilimoria, MD, an oncology surgeon at Northwestern University in Chicago and his colleagues. He says the inconsistent and surprising conclusions may indicate problems with the way the quality of care at cancer hospitals is measured.

Bilimoria looked at data from the 1,168 hospitals with accreditation from the National Cancer Institute or the Commission on Cancer and 2,395 non-accredited hospitals.

"Most of us would agree that it's the outcomes that are the bottom line in healthcare. The one thing we really need to assure is that it is the best in hospitals where we choose to get care. But it didn't work that way for [these cancer accredited] hospitals. It was confusing to us," he says.

Bilimoria adds that the conclusions from the paper make the issue "murky and it's hard for patients to figure out what's going on. If they look at an NCI-designated cancer center, they see good process measure performance, and then bad outcomes, and that really isn't helpful."


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