Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hospital death rates unveiled

Motorists heading through the Lehigh Valley from Allentown, Pa., earlier this year passed two giant billboards proclaiming: "Fast Heart Attack Care Saved My Husband's Life." What the billboards didn't say was just how fast. It took 24 minutes for Richard Silverman's doctors at Lehigh Valley Hospital to clear a 100% blockage from his heart's most vital artery. That's a third of the 90-minute goal that hospitals strive for.

"Maybe five minutes more and I'd be gone," Silverman, 63, co-owner of Pro-dent, a dental laboratory in Allentown, says his doctor told him. Doctors at Lehigh Valley are proud of their speed. It's one reason the hospital boasts the lowest heart attack death rate in the country, 11.6%, in a new government analysis obtained by USA TODAY. Among those at the other end of the spectrum is Virginia's Danville Regional Medical Center with death rates for heart attack of 19.6% and for heart failure of 15.5%.

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