Hospital mortality rate

Doing the very best for our patients is our key aim – this means safe practice, good outcomes and compassionate care that meets patient needs.

Hearing feedback from patients is really important for us and sits alongside the results I talk about in this blog – we use all these things to check if we are doing as well as we want to.

But one measure that often hits the headlines is the mortality rate: how many people die.

Mortality rates are not easy to compare – for example, we might want to compare how many patients survive heart attacks at two different hospitals.

Simply knowing how many people died at each hospital would of course be misleading – one hospital may treat many more patients than the other.

But taking the percentage – how many out of each hundred died - can also mislead. What if one hospital has a lot more patients with heart attacks who also have other serious illnesses, or if patients get to that hospital much later?

This is why more complicated measures are developed – Hospital Standardised Mortality Rates (HSMR) is one, though there are others.

These measures try to allow for the other factors so that you can begin to see whether or not there are things that need to improve. Even then, simply looking at the numbers won’t tell us how good the care is but it starts to give clues on how well we are doing.

Dr Foster provides information on different mortality factors – the headlines and also greater detail which we study carefully.

Their recent report showed that our HSMR was at the level expected – neither worse nor better than you would expect for the patients we saw. HSMR only looks at deaths in hospital for 56 conditions.

Another measure which Dr Foster reports is for all conditions, and includes deaths in hospital or immediately after discharge.

On this measure, called Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator (SHMI), we score better than expected for the patients we treat – this puts us in the top 20 hospitals in the country.

We are pleased with this but determined to make further improvements.

We know that just looking at these high level numbers is only a minor part – our clinical teams will continue to listen to patient views, monitor our results and ensure we strive to be the very best in every service.