Location May Be Difference Between Life and Death, Studies Find


It seems the saying “location, location, location” may be important to remember in more contexts than real estate, according to the findings of a few recent health studies. One of the most significant studies focused on survival rates for heart attacks across the U.S.

The study, led by researchers at Yale University, looked at more than 500 hospitals across the country and compared hospital policies and practices with patient survival rates. Researchers found that survival rates doubled at hospitals which shared five common practices.

These practices centered largely on staffing and staff communication, with things like better teamwork among doctors and nurses or monthly meetings between paramedics and doctors positively impacting patients’ likelihood of surviving heart attacks. Unfortunately, according to their findings, fewer than 10 percent of the hospitals used even four of the five life-saving practices.

In addition to the Yale study, the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association recently issued a recommendation based upon the effects of hospital choice on survival rates for stroke victims. According to the two groups, people who are diagnosed as suffering from aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, a kind of stroke which includes bleeding in the brain, should be admitted to hospitals which treat at least 35 of those cases a year. Their recommendation targets emergency room staff, who are often the first to diagnose patients with these kinds of bleeding strokes, saying that hospitals which don’t see many of these cases should immediately transfer patients to locations that do. Researchers found that at so-called ‘high-density’ hospitals, there were 12 percent fewer deaths than at hospitals that treated bleeding strokes less often. Patients treated at high-density hospitals may also have fewer complications in their recoveries, experts say.

Both of these reports shed important light on how hospital staffing and expertise among hospital workers affect a patient’s ability to access life-saving care–and how not all hospitals, not all locations, are created equal. Unfortunately, not all patients are in a position to know how to choose or even be able to choose the right place for treatment, especially in an emergency situation. Often, it’s left to family members to act as advocates for a loved one. It’s important to think about your medical wishes and to talk about them with your family. It’s also important to remember to take the time to do this before a medical emergency happens–before a loved one’s survival is on the line.


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