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Consolidation and Quality: An examination of the effect of hospital consolidation on the quality of care over time

Tariq Nazir Ali, Harvard College ’09


The study of hospital consolidation and its effect on the quality of patient care has been of great interest in both the economic and legal communities as consolidation activity surged in the mid-1990s. Previous studies have either been inconclusive or concluded that hospital mergers and acquisitions detrimentally impact quality. This study examines hospital care before and after consolidation from 1993 to 1998 using patient data from 14 states. Using inpatient mortality and length of stay for CHF patients as indicators of quality, the study incorporates time lag variables to test for any time variance in the effect of hospital consolidation on the quality of patient care. Initially, in the first year post-merger, hospital consolidation results in an initial increase in inpatient mortality and has a negligible effect on length of stay. In subsequent years, there is a significant decrease in inpatient mortality and length of stay, both indicating an improvement in quality of care. These results seem to counter the conclusions of existing literature and thus invite further study.

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