Failure to rescue (ie, mortality after a major complication) has recently been demonstrated as a mechanism underlying differences between high and low mortality hospitals. In this study, we sought to better understand the hospital characteristics that may explain failure to rescue.
Using data from the 2000 to 2006 Nationwide Inpatient Sample and the American Hospital Association annual survey, we evaluated the effect of 5 hospital level characteristics on failure to rescue (FTR) rates. Using multivariate logistic regression models, we determined the relative contribution of each of these factors to the FTR rates at the lowest and highest mortality hospitals.
Failure to rescue varied 6-fold across hospitals (6.4% in very low mortality hospitals vs 40.0% in very high mortality hospitals, p < 0.001). Several hospital characteristics were significantly associated with lower FTR: teaching status (odds ratio [OR] 0.66, 95% CI 0.53 to 0.82), hospital size greater than 200 beds (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.48 to 0.87), average daily census greater than 50% capacity (OR 0.56, 95%CI 0.32 to 0.98), increased nurse-to-patient ratios (OR 0.94, 95% CI 0.89 to 0.99), and high hospital technology (OR 0.65, 95% CI 0.52 to 0.81). Including all hospital characteristics into a multivariate model results in a 36% reduction in the odds of FTR between very high and very low mortality hospitals (OR 6.6, 95% CI 3.7 to 11.9).
Several hospital characteristics are associated with FTR from major complications. However, a large portion of what makes some hospitals better than others at rescuing patients remains unexplained. Future research should focus on hospital cultures and attitudes that may contribute to the timely recognition and effective management of major complications.