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Rural hospitals pose greater risk to patients than city hospitals

It is no surprise that New York City has some of the best hospitals in the world, but it may be shocking that a state that can have such excellent hospitals also has hospitals with high mortality rates, too. Some parts of upstate New York are quite rural and have very few hospital choices. Many of these rural hospitals are considered critical-access hospitals and receive extra money from Medicare, yet despite this funding, there is a new study that shows the death rates for patients at rural hospitals have increased in the past decade.

What makes this statistic even worse is that death rates have fallen in urban and suburban hospitals. While the death rates at critical-access hospitals and urban hospitals were approximately the same for heart-related conditions and pneumonia in 2002, the critical-access hospitals have only gotten worse. Now, the death rate at critical-access hospitals is 13.3 percent, while it has fallen to 11.4 percent for urban hospitals. Not only did critical-access hospitals do poorly against urban hospitals, but they also did worse than other rural hospitals that were not part of the specialized Medicare program.

So what does this mean for the people in rural areas like Warren County? Although it is obviously preferable to have some choice in where to go to the hospital, when there are very few options available, it is important to have doctors that know what they are doing and have sufficient equipment to do their jobs properly. If they do not and a patient is injured, the patient may be able to sue under medical malpractice. Whether it is the responsibility of the hospital or the individual doctor, it is crucial that all medical personnel do what they can to keep patients alive and healthy.

The Lincoln Journal Star, "Death rates rise at geographically isolated hospitals, study finds," Jordan Rau, April 7, 2013

Visit our New York medical malpractice page to find out more.

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