An Assessment of HCFA's 1988 Hospital Mortality Analyses

PEMD-89-11BR: Published: Dec 13, 1988. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 1988.

Additional Materials:


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

In response to a congressional request, GAO examined the Health Care Financing Administration's (HCFA) 1988 analysis of Medicare hospital patient mortality.

GAO found that HCFA: (1) modified the composition of the 17 diagnostic categories for Medicare patients to reduce the variation in the mortality rates associated with the individual diagnoses; (2) reported outcomes for each hospital over several years, rather than a single year; and (3) initiated studies to validate its analytical approach. GAO also found that the HCFA analytical approach: (1) failed to account for the wide variations in mortality rates of the principal diagnoses included in many of the 17 categories; (2) lacked detailed clinical data on individual patients; (3) would only provide tentative information on the correspondence between the results of the mortality analyses and the actual distribution of hospital quality problems; (4) did not consider alternative approaches; and (5) did not provide the comprehensive, systematic assessment needed to estimate the effect of any resulting deficiencies on the quality of care.

Mar 19, 2018

Mar 8, 2018

Feb 20, 2018

Feb 8, 2018

Feb 5, 2018

Jan 30, 2018

Jan 23, 2018

Jan 17, 2018

Jan 16, 2018

Looking for more? Browse all our products here