Depending on which newspapers you read, hospital mortality rates – or death rates as they are known commonly – 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, as well as other serious conditions like heart attacks. Some people die because their illness is incurable; yet others have just come to the end of their natural life and the most important thing is that they have a dignified and respectful death, ideally at home surrounded by their loved ones.
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 three main statistics used:
Crude mortality rate - produced locally by the Trust itself
Mortality rates for consultant surgeons
Through a national initiative supported by relevant Royal Colleges and doctors’ organisations, mortality rate information relating to individual surgeons across a number of clinical specialties is now published routinely. To find out more, please click here.