The Measurement of Mortality: A Risk-Adjusted Variable Time Window Approach

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This paper describes the development of risk-adjusted mortality indices (RAMI) using 1985 MEDPAR data from 657 hospitals. The RAMI methodology is adopted from the Commission on Professional and Hospital Activities, however both inhospital and post-discharge deaths are counted within time windows that vary by clinical condition. Five different RAMI measures (expected deaths/observed deaths) are developed, compared, and aggregated into various hospital characteristic strata. These measures vary by which discharge is held responsible for deaths within a time window, and whether or not inhospital deaths that occur beyond the time window are included. The RAMIs using varying time windows are compared with the RAMIs based upon inhospital deaths only. The inhospital RAMI was higher for the nonteaching hospitals (.95) as compared with the major and minor teaching institutions (.91 and .89). The RAMIs using the varying time windows, on the other hand, tend to be higher for the teaching institutions (e.g., 1.07 for major teaching hospitals; 0.99 for nonteaching hospitals).

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