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Choice of hospital can put odds against you

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Patti Strong, 80, goes through a daily ritual to watch for danger signs that could send her back to the hospital.

[Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 21, 2010] Since 2007, the federal agency that runs Medicare has compiled data to grade hospitals. Using its vast database (Medicare covers more than 44 million people) and controlling for the fact that some hospitals see more severe cases than others, it has tracked patients with three common conditions: heart attacks, congestive heart failure and pneumonia. To see how they fared, it calculates how many die or end up back in the hospital within 30 days.

Dr. Penny Wheeler, chief clinical officer at Allina Hospitals & Clinics, was taken aback when she first saw the numbers. Last year, 14 Minnesota hospitals stood out as significantly better—or worse—than their peers nationwide.

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