The quality of physician hospital's care has been proven by many studies – both private and government – that more than answer the unrelenting attacks by the chain and community hospitals. Various studies (like the one by Consumer Reports) done on quality, costs, patient care, and community benefit all show that physician hospitals:
- Provide good quality care;
- Do not significantly increase health care expenditures;
- Contribute to cost-reducing competition;
- Provide community benefits; and
- Do not greatly harm neighboring full-service hospitals
For example, a federally mandated quality study done by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) showed that patients rated physician hospitals 37 points higher than the national average. On important quality measurements - like how carefully nurses and doctors listened to them and how well their pain was controlled – patients overwhelmingly told CMS that physician hospitals were better.
One reason patient satisfaction may be greater is that according to March 2005 MedPAC study of physician hospitals, the length of stay was anywhere from 17 percent to 31 percent shorter at specialty hospitals than their community counterparts. This can be attributed to many factors including a higher nurse to patient ratio at specialty hospitals, more physician control of hospital operations, and minimal patient disruption during recovery. Physician-owners argue that the smaller scale of their hospitals leads to a more patient and patient family friendly environment.
According to the American Medical Association (AMA), "a study of Medicare patients undergoing joint replacement surgery in specialty orthopedic hospitals had a 50 percent lower risk of adverse outcomes than patients in a comparison group of hospitals." The AMA also stated recently, "Government studies have found fewer complications, like infections and hip fractures at specialty cardiac hospitals."
HealthGrades, a quality review firm that ranks hospitals by complication and mortality rates, regularly shows that specialty hospitals are over represented in their top-tier rankings. For example, three of the nation's top ten cardiac programs are at specialty hospitals, and three of the top ten hospitals for total joint replacement surgery are specialty centers.
On the other side of the ledger, general hospital care continues to provide horror stories. According to the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality (AHRQ), the number of hospital patients stricken by serious infections increased by 200 percent between 2000 and 2005. AHRQ's analysis also found that most of those sickened by infection - two out of three - were elderly patients. Those who don't get life-threatening infections could still suffer from hospital errors. A HealthGrades Patient Safety study found that from 2003 to 2005 there were 1.16 million patient safety incidents among Medicare patients. They estimate that there were 247,662 potentially preventable deaths in U.S. hospitals during those three years. Those patient safety incidents cost Medicare $8.6 billion.
Some recent studies even raise security concerns at large hospitals. A 2008 Business Wire story highlights a study reporting that identity theft is three times more likely to happen at a larger facility (more than 100 beds) than a smaller specialty facility.