Lead author Dr. Laurent G. Glance of the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York says the finding suggests high quality can coexist with lower cost.
The study, published in the Annals of Surgery, found high-quality hospitals have death rates that are 34 percent lower, while spending nearly 22 percent less on trauma patient care than average-quality hospitals. However, the researchers say the reason is not clear.
Trauma victims are usually younger and in this study, most trauma patients -- car crash, fall, gunshot or stab wound -- were about ages 40-50 and male.
One possible explanation is that higher-quality hospitals may have fewer patient complications such as infections compared with lower-quality hospitals, Glance says.
"There is a growing recognition that, when it comes to healthcare, we have a quality problem in this country," Glance says in a statement. "We all want better quality and outcomes, and one possible theory is that achieving better quality may be less expensive in the long run."