Dr Foster, the respected annual guide to hospitals released by the research unit at Imperial College London has just been released for 2013. This report looks at many different factors around NHS Trusts in the UK, one of the most important of which is the overall mortality rate. Understanding how mortality rates are measured, the process for calculating them and how to make the comparison is essential when interpreting and acting on the figures.
In essence, mortality is the number of people who die in any given hospital over a given period of time. These figures are collected from the individual hospital trusts and then compared to give a picture of what is happening across the NHS. In order to make the comparison as accurate as possible, similar groups of patients with similar health issues are compared. This sort of report is of critical importance to the NHS as it gives indications of which hospitals need to improve.
Dr Foster follows a set procedure to measure their mortality rates. As a starting point, the total number of patients who died in a given time period is counted. The researchers then take into account a number of other factors such as what type of patients the hospital treats, how old they are, what sort of health conditions they have and so on. For the 2013 report, 12 of these factors were taken into account when arriving at the final mortality figures. The Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio is then used. This compares the number of patients who were expected to die in the given period against the number of people who actually died. Once the process is complete, the NHS Trusts or hospitals are grouped into different bands depending on performance.
What else has to be taken into account?
Mortality rates aren’t as simple as looking at the raw data in a simple form. Researchers also look at a variety of other factors such as how many patients due during an operation, how many die within a month of leaving hospital, whether patients had any pre-existing medical condition, and whether or not they were admitted as an emergency.
All of these mortality reports are highly dependent on accurate record keeping within the individual hospitals not only on the deaths but on other factors such as hospital acquired infections and any complications the patient experienced during their treatment.
There are lots of findings in the Dr Foster 2013 report, but the headline figure is that in 2012/13, 237,100 patients died in hospital. This is the second lowest number in a decade, but up 4,400 on the 2011/12 year. Death rates are not getting better in a consistent pattern as deaths in 2012/13 were lower than in 2011/12. 16 NHS hospital trusts across the UK showed higher than expected mortality rates, but 29 performed better than had been expected. There is much more detail in the full report, and this should be used by staff within the NHS to identify where there is room for improvement and to come up for a plan to ensure that mortality rates carry on falling.
Lost a loved one at hospital due to medical negligence? Thinking of Claiming Compensation? Call us now
The specialist clinical negligence team here at Bonallack & Bishop can’t make up for your loss – but we can help you recover the compensation you are entitled to, and put further pressure on the NHS to continue improving improve standards. But don’t delay making your application for compensation – strict time limits apply, so don’t lose your chance for compensation
• Call 01722 422300 today for a FREE initial phone consultation and a FREE 1st appointment OR
• Fill out the enquiry form below