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Ryan G. Chiu, Blake E. Murphy, David M. Rosenberg, Amy Q. Zhu and Ankit I. Mehta

OBJECTIVE

Much of the current discourse surrounding healthcare reform in the United States revolves around the role of the profit motive in medical care. However, there currently exists a paucity of literature evaluating the effect of for-profit hospital ownership status on neurological and neurosurgical care. The purpose of this study was to compare inpatient mortality, operation rates, length of stay, and hospital charges between private nonprofit and for-profit hospitals in the treatment of intracranial hemorrhage.

METHODS

This retrospective cohort study utilized data from the National Inpatient Sample (NIS) database. Primary outcomes, including all-cause inpatient mortality, operative status, patient disposition, hospital length of stay, total hospital charges, and per-day hospital charges, were assessed for patients discharged with a primary diagnosis of intracranial (epidural, subdural, subarachnoid, or intraparenchymal) hemorrhage, while controlling for baseline demographics, comorbidities, and interhospital differences via propensity score matching. Subgroup analyses by hemorrhage type were then performed, using the same methodology.

RESULTS

Of 155,977 unique hospital discharges included in this study, 133,518 originated from private nonprofit hospitals while the remaining 22,459 were from for-profit hospitals. After propensity score matching, mortality rates were higher in for-profit centers, at 14.50%, compared with 13.31% at nonprofit hospitals (RR 1.09, 95% CI 1.00–1.18; p = 0.040). Surgical operation rates were also similar (25.38% vs 24.42%; RR 0.96, 95% CI 0.91–1.02; p = 0.181). Of note, nonprofit hospitals appeared to be more intensive, with intracranial pressure monitor placement occurring in 2.13% of patients compared with 1.47% in for-profit centers (RR 0.69, 95% CI 0.54–0.88; p < 0.001). Discharge disposition was also similar, except for higher rates of absconding at for-profit hospitals (RR 1.59, 95% CI 1.12–2.27; p = 0.018). Length of stay was greater among for-profit hospitals (mean ± SD: 7.46 ± 11.91 vs 6.50 ± 8.74 days, p < 0.001), as were total hospital charges ($141,141.40 ± $218,364.40 vs $84,863.54 ± $136,874.71 [USD], p < 0.001). These findings remained similar even after segregating patients by subgroup analysis by hemorrhage type.

CONCLUSIONS

For-profit hospitals are associated with higher inpatient mortality, lengths of stay, and hospital charges compared with their nonprofit counterparts.