Study Places The Nebraska Heart Hospital In The Top Five Percent Nationally For Overall Cardiac Care

October 26, 2010 – HealthGrades, the leading independent healthcare ratings organization, announces that the Nebraska Heart Hospital is once again among the top five percent in the nation for Cardiology Services. The nation’s nearly 5,000 hospitals were all included in this sweeping study that examined mortality and complication rates in the most current available data from the government looking at patient outcomes from 2007, 2008 and 2009.

“Since 1987, Nebraska Heart has been a pioneer in cardiovascular healthcare,” says Thomas Burnell, Chief Executive Officer for the Nebraska Heart Institute and Heart Hospital. “Our innovation in technology and processes has been equally complemented by the care and compassion physicians and staff provide to the thousands of patients, family members and visitors who have walked through our doors each day. It is this combination of personal attention and originality that has produced outstanding patient outcomes.”

American households are now the second largest payer of health care services, second only to the federal government, and are outspending private business. Therefore, it is not surprising that patients are now consuming complex quality information that once was only available to hospitals. Since the organization’s inception, the Nebraska Heart Hospital has remained committed to providing superior quality of care along with a superior service experience when patients select the organization.

The Heart Hospital wholeheartedly supports efforts to make its services available to the residents throughout the region and is pleased to announce that the Nebraska Heart Hospital has been recognized for the following HealthGrades 2011 Quality Awards:

• Ranked #1 in Nebraska for all five areas of Cardiac and Vascular care
• Only Nebraska hospital to be recognized in the Top 10 percent nationally for any of the HealthGrades Cardiac and Vascular distinctions
• Ranked among the Top 5 percent in the Nation for Overall Cardiac Care- 2 years in a row
• Ranked among the Top 5 percent in the Nation for Cardiology Services- 2 years in a row
• Ranked among the Top 10 percent in the Nation for Cardiac Surgery
• Ranked among the Top 10 percent in the Nation for Coronary Interventional Procedures- 2 years in a row
• Ranked among the Top 10 percent in the Nation for Vascular Surgery
• Five-Star Rated for Overall Cardiac Care
• Five-Star Rated for Cardiac Surgery
• Five-Star Rated for Cardiology Services
• Five-Star Rated for Vascular Surgery
• Five-Star Rated for Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
• Five-Star Rated for Coronary Interventional Procedures
• Five-Star Rated for Treatment of Heart Attack
• Five-Star Rated for Treatment of Congestive Heart Failure
• Five-Star Rated for Carotid Surgery
• Five-Star Rated for Peripheral Vascular Bypass Surgery

The Thirteenth Annual HealthGrades Hospital Quality in America study, the largest annual report of its kind, analyzed patient outcomes from nearly 40 million Medicare hospitalization records over a three-year period. HealthGrades’ hospital ratings are the leading objective, actionable quality measures based solely on clinical performance made available to the public.

According to James Wudel, MD, Cardiothoracic Surgeon with Nebraska Heart and Director of Quality Improvement, the top-performing hospitals had dramatically lower mortality rates than other hospitals. “For the 17 procedures and diagnoses for which HealthGrades analyzed mortality rates, patients at top hospitals had a 72 percent lower chance of dying when compared with the lowest-performing hospitals, and a 53 percent lower chance of dying when compared to the U.S. national average,” says Wudel. Wudel goes on to further state that, “when looking at rates of complication across 10 procedures studied, there was an 80 percent lower chance of experiencing one or more complications in a 5-star rated hospital compared to a 1-star rated hospital.” The study also showed, when comparing 5-star rated hospitals to the U.S. hospital average, the chance is 63 percent lower of developing one or more in-hospital complication.

The public is demanding increased public reporting of quality measures, and recent government reform efforts support this call to action. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 40 percent of adults report that they believe there are major differences in hospital quality in their immediate geography. Additionally, since 1996, the number of consumers that indicated they would choose a hospital based on a high quality rating over familiarity has increased to 72 percent from 59 percent.
“Nebraska Heart is more than technology; it is the people, both physicians and staff, who create this center of cardiovascular excellence,” says Wudel. “This continued recognition by HealthGrades along with other accolades such as from the American Heart Association underscores the advantages a specialty center like the Nebraska Heart Hospital affords each patient.”

According to Mr. Burnell, the organization is committed to transparency of information to patients. “Through our website,, patients may view ratings by governmental agencies such as Hospital Compare to discover for themselves from an unbiased third-party the quality of outcomes from facilities like the Nebraska Heart Hospital.”

HealthGrades Hospital Quality Ratings
HealthGrades rates hospitals independently based on data that hospitals submit to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

For 26 procedures and medical treatments, HealthGrades issues star ratings that reflect the mortality and complication rates for each category of care. Hospitals receiving a 5-star rating have mortality or complication rates that are below the national average, to a statistically significant degree. A 3-star rating means the hospital performs as expected. One-star ratings indicate the hospital’s mortality or complication rates in that procedure or treatment are statistically higher than average. Because the risk profiles of patient populations at hospitals are not alike, HealthGrades risk-adjusts the data to allow for equal comparisons.

About Nebraska Heart
In 2003, Nebraska’s first heart-exclusive hospital, the Nebraska Heart Hospital, began providing patient care. The 63-bed, state-of-the-art facility provides patients and families throughout the region with leading-edge services delivered in a caring environment. NHH includes three operating suites, three cardiac catheterization labs and peripheral vascular and electrophysiology labs with comprehensive imaging services. The 27 physicians and more than 500 support staff work together in providing cardiac, vascular and thoracic care and will continue to influence and shape the future of health care through innovation, creativity and research.

More information on NHH can be found at



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