Trends in Women’s Health in American Hospitals
New Report on Women's Health Finds:
- Women are 29.1% more likely to die than men when having certain cardiac surgeries
- C-section rates stabilize for the first time in eight years
- Hysterectomy rates continue to drop
Nearly 21 million women of all ages will be admitted into American hospitals each year and many will receive one of the many interventions and procedures available to save or improve their lives, including that of their unborn baby. You might think that having good access to healthcare would mean that anyone needing a hospital stay for any reason would receive the best medical care currently available. That is mostly the case. But some hospitals can fall short in quality and a few can put women’s lives needlessly at risk.
Every year Healthgrades examines the track record of hospitals to see which of these facilities are providing outstanding care with the hopes that women will consider this critical information when choosing a hospital. Healthgrades takes a multi-barreled approach to evaluating the quality of hospital care as it pertains to women. Evaluations include the most common procedures unique to women, such as childbirth, gynecological procedures, and lifesaving cardiac procedures.
After accounting for certain factors that could put a hospital in an unfair light because they routinely take on difficult cases, Healthgrades found a select group of hospitals that consistently provided standout hospital care for women. Hospital stays that a take turn for the worse are unpredictable and depend on a multitude of factors. While the chances of a problem occurring can be keenly linked to the hospital a woman attends, just being a woman matters too. One worrisome finding is that women having certain types of cardiac surgery are 29.1% more likely to die than men.
If women receive their care at a high-performing 5-star hospital worthy of receiving a Healthgrades Women’s Health Excellence Award™, Maternity Care Excellence Award™, or Gynecologic Surgery Excellence Award™, they are less likely to become unnecessarily sicker or die during their hospital stay. That’s because high-quality hospitals have safeguards in place and are committed to practicing appropriate, timely, gold-standard medical care, consistently and correctly without inflicting undue harm to their female patients.
What Determines Excellence in Maternity Care
Some pregnancies are inherently vulnerable to complications, such as high-risk pregnancies where a woman has more than one fetus, or women who also have a chronic illness. However, hospital stays that involve healthy women who have no overt problems and who are carrying only one baby can also experience serious complications both as a result of a natural childbirth delivery and a surgical cesarean section.
Nearly 1,662,000 obstetrical procedures are performed on American women each year including cesarean sections, and every one of those is prone to suffering a complication or death. Complications include extreme vaginal tears during vaginal delivery, excessive bleeding, post delivery infection, problems with surgical C-section incision, blood clots, anesthesia complications, and retained placenta parts.
✔ Women who choose to deliver their baby at a hospital rated 5 stars in maternity care by Healthgrades, have a 62% lower chance of experiencing complications during childbirth compared to a 1-star hospital.
What Determines Excellence in Gynecologic Surgery
Many women will at some point in their lives require a gynecological procedure to repair or remove a reproductive organ, or to support a urinary organ to manage bladder control problems. Women will have 650,000 hysterectomies every year, the most common type of gynecological procedure, which involves the removal of the uterus and sometimes the ovaries as well. Complications include accidentally puncturing or cutting of another body part during the procedure, excessive bleeding, intestinal blockage, and breathing incidents.
✔ Women who choose to have a gynecological procedure at a hospital rated 5 stars in gynecologic surgery by Healthgrades, have a 56% lower chance of experiencing complications compared to a 1-star hospital.
What Determines Excellence for Heart Attack Care
There is no question that the biology of women and men differ in many ways and what might work well for men can fall flat for women. Treatments are not always well studied in women so doctors don’t always know if a particular procedure or medical approach that works fine in men, is a good match for a women’s unique body chemistry.
There are some instances when a women’s symptoms are mistakenly dismissed, and they could have benefited from a procedure that is typically offered to men, but not always offered to women. For example, American women receive half as many angioplasty procedures than men do. Healthgrades found 39.5% of women with coronary heart disease received lifesaving heart surgery compared to 54.3% of men. And while it is hard to know all the factors that explain this discrepancy, one credible approach is to compare the number of women who came to the hospital with a heart attack, who later died, which implies that the best available care for heart attack noticeably and unnecessarily varied.
✔ Women who choose a Healthgrades Women’s Health Excellence Award hospital, have a 25% lower risk of dying from heart-related deaths compared to the worst performing hospitals.
More than 200 million consumers use Healthgrades websites to find, compare, select, and connect with a physician or hospital, and use its comprehensive information about clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, patient safety, and health conditions to make more informed healthcare decisions.