Comparison of 30-day mortality models for profiling hospital performance in acute ischemic stroke with vs without adjustment for stroke severity

Gregg C. Fonarow, Wenqin Pan, Jeffrey L. Saver, Eric E. Smith, Mathew J. Reeves, Joseph P. Broderick, Dawn O. Kleindorfer, Ralph L. Sacco, DaiWai M. Olson, Adrian F. Hernandez, Eric D. Peterson, Lee H. Schwamm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Context: There is increasing interest in reporting risk-standardized outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries hospitalized with acute ischemic stroke, but whether it is necessary to include adjustment for initial stroke severity has not been well studied. Objective: To evaluate the degree to which hospital outcome ratings and potential eligibility for financial incentives are altered after including initial stroke severity in a claims-based risk model for hospital 30-day mortality for acute ischemic stroke. Design, Setting, and Patients: Data were analyzed from 782 Get With The Guidelines-Stroke participating hospitals on 127 950 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with ischemic stroke who had a score documented for the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS, a 15-item neurological examination scale with scores from 0 to 42, with higher scores indicating more severe stroke) between April 2003 and December 2009. Performance of claims-based hospital mortality risk models with and without inclusion of NIHSS scores for 30-day mortality was evaluated and hospital rankings from both models were compared. Main Outcomes Measures: Model discrimination, hospital 30-day mortality outcome rankings, and value-based purchasing financial incentive categories. Results: Across the study population, the mean (SD) NIHSS score was 8.23 (8.11) (median, 5; interquartile range, 2-12). There were 18 186 deaths (14.5%) within the first 30 days, including 7430 deaths (5.8%) during the index hospitalization. The hospital mortality model with NIHSS scores had significantly better discrimination than the model without (C statistic, 0.864; 95% CI, 0.861-0.867, vs 0.772; 95% CI, 0.769-0.776; P<.001). Among hospitals ranked in the top 20% or bottom 20% of performers by the claims model without NIHSS scores, 26.3% were ranked differently by the model with NIHSS scores. Of hospitals initially classified as having "worse than expected" mortality, 57.7% were reclassified to "as expected" by the model with NIHSS scores. The net reclassification improvement (93.1%; 95% CI, 91.6%-94.6%; P<.001) and integrated discrimination improvement (15.0%; 95% CI, 14.6%-15.3%; P<.001) indexes both demonstrated significant enhancement of model performance after the addition of NIHSS. Explained variance and model calibration was also improved with the addition of NIHSS scores. Conclusion: Adding stroke severity as measured by the NIHSS to a hospital 30-day risk model based on claims data for Medicare beneficiaries with acute ischemic stroke was associated with considerably improved model discrimination and change in mortality performance rankings for a substantial portion of hospitals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-264
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 18 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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