Depending on which newspapers you read, hospital mortality rates – or death rates as they are commonly known – can be presented in rather an alarmist way. The resulting coverage often seems to forget that despite all the new technology and medical breakthroughs of recent years, people do die in hospital – every day, every month and every year.
Most of the time these deaths are unavoidable – the consequences of major trauma, such as road traffic accidents, and other serious conditions, like heart attacks. Of course some people die because their illnesses is incurable; yet others have just come to the end of their life and the most important thing is that their death is dignified and respectful of their privacy.
Why do hospitals measure mortality rates?
Not only do they help us better understand the risks of hospital treatments for individual patients, changes in patterns over time can pinpoint where improvements may need to be made. They can also help those people wishing to make a choice about the hospital where they may want to have their treatment.
So as you can see, accurate mortality data matters – to doctors and nurses, as well as to their patients.
When it comes to measuring mortality rates, there are two main statistics used: