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In-Hospital Mortality Among Rural Medicare Patients With Acute Myocardial Infarction: The Influence of Demographics, Transfer, and Health Factors


  • This study is supported by a grant from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (5 P20 HS015931). The sponsor was not involved in the management, analysis/interpretation of data or the preparation of the manuscript. The authors thank Mary Wakefield, PhD, RN, for her helpful comments and suggestions. For further information, contact: Dr. Kyle J. Muus, PhD, University of North Dakota Center for Rural Health, School of Medicine & Health Sciences, 501 North Columbia Road, Grand Forks, ND 58202; e-mail


Context/Purpose: Most rural hospitals can provide medical care to acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients, but a need for advanced cardiac care requires timely transfer to a tertiary hospital. There is little information on AMI in-hospital mortality predictors among rural transfer patients.

Methods: Cross-sectional retrospective analyses on 2003-2005 Medicare hospital inpatient data from 5 states were conducted to compare predictors of in-hospital AMI mortality between rural hospital transferred and nontransferred patients. A total of 9,690 rural hospital AMI patients were identified: 3,087 were transferred to receiving hospitals and 6,603 were not transferred. Separate logistic regressions were conducted for transferred and nontransferred patient cohorts and results were compared.

Results: Transfer patients were younger, more likely male, had fewer comorbidities/complications, and were less likely to expire (5.3% vs 16.7%) in the hospital. Congestive heart failure and cardiac dysrhythmia were the most common comorbidities/complications among transfer and no-transfer AMI patients, but shock (OR = 9.44) and acute renal failure (OR = 3.67) had the strongest associations with in-hospital mortality for both cohorts. Undergoing a percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) was associated with a 42% reduction in hospital mortality risk for transfer patients.

Conclusions: Transfer was associated with a greater likelihood of in-hospital AMI survival, largely but not fully explained by transfer patients being younger with fewer comorbidities/complications who are receiving advanced cardiac care. Additional studies are needed to clarify other factors that explain higher in-hospital mortality among nontransfers, such as patients’ health care decision-making.