The largest mortality rate decline in a single treatment category was in respiratory failure without mechanical ventilation, from 17 percent in 2004 to 11.7 percent in 2007, the report said.
The council's study also found a slight increase in readmission rates for 19 conditions and procedures over a three-year period, from 18.6 percent in 2005 to 18.7 percent in 2007.
Carolyn F. Scanlan, president and chief executive officer of the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said the report was generally good news for hospitals, but cautioned that chronic illness may be responsible for some readmissions.
"The linkage between the significant decline in mortality rates and the slight increase in readmission rates reflects the fact that the quality of care hospitals provide is saving more lives than ever," Scanlan said. "However, many of those surviving patients are the most chronically ill - and therefore most in need of continuing hospital care."
The council examined data for common procedures and treatments at 162 hospitals during the yearlong period that ended Sept. 30, 2007. Conditions studied included abnormal heartbeats, congestive heart failure, diabetes, kidney failure, pneumonia and stroke.
The council was briefly shuttered this summer when Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell clashed with Republican lawmakers over coverage for uninsured adults. It was revived temporarily under an executive order that expires Nov. 30.
On the Net:
Pa. Health Care Cost Containment Council: htttp://www.phc4.org
Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania: http://www.haponline.com