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February 26, 2024
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Private Equity

Falls, infections much more likely among Medicare patients treated at private equity-owned hospitals


Private equity firms and private equity-backed physician groups have grown increasingly influential in the world of healthcare in recent years. The trend has carried over into several specialties, including cardiology, leading to more and more speculation about the impact such investments may make on patient outcomes.

The importance of tracking hospital-acquired adverse events

A trio of researchers representing Harvard Medical School and the University of Chicago aimed to learn more about this ongoing development, tracking the rates of certain hospital-acquired adverse events among Medicare patients treated at U.S. hospitals.

The group shared its findings in JAMA, noting that monitoring what happens during a hospitalization “may provide a better assessment of quality attributable to private equity” than other approaches.

“Hospital-acquired conditions are established measures of inpatient quality, are considered preventable based on guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), are clinically important for patients and have been financially relevant for both hospitals and the CMS since 2009,” wrote first author Sneha Kannan, MD, with the department of healthcare policy at Harvard Medical School, and colleagues.

Kannan et al. focused on Medicare Part A data from more than 660,000 hospitalizations at 51 private equity-acquired hospitals and more than 4 million hospitalizations at 259 matched control hospitals. All hospitalizations occurred from 2009 to 2019. Patients were hospitalized for a variety of reasons. Heart failure was one of the four most common indications, as were sepsis, total hip arthroplasty and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease/pneumonia. The mean patient age was 73 years old, and 55% were women.

The analysis included a wide range of hospital-acquired adverse events, including foreign objects retained after a surgery, falls, surgical site infections and cases of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism after a knee or hip replacement.



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