Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Patient safety - new measures to inform the public about mortality rates

I am heavily involved in clinical negligence claims and something that always staggers me is the blissful ignorance that the general public have regarding just how dangerous hospitals can be. Most people genuinely believe that hospitals set high standards that are adhered to rigidly so far as care and quality of service is concerned.

This is a fallacy. Most hospitals can be very dangerous places indeed.

Clinicans are over stretched and dis-enfranchised (more consideration given to their private nest egg practice than their NHS to do list), nurses are underpaid and overwhelmed with work and hygiene standards are at third world levels in some hospitals. Add to this cocktail excessively wasteful management and you have a lethal combination.

Grim reading but when you do the job that we do ... you get to thinking like this.

So with that backdrop I was pleased to read that new information is now available regarding mortality rates. The Summary Hospital-Level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) has been rolled out by some quango or other and seems to actually provide good info. However somewhat disappointingly the info is not easily accessible.

After some research work on Google I found this little snippet which underlines the importance of these metrics in determining the quality of care in UK hospitals:

In the period from 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2011, there were:

■ 14 trusts whose SHMI value was ‘higher than expected' under both methods and;
■ 12 trusts whose SHMI value was ‘lower than expected' under both methods

So 14 hospitals underperformed on this crucial metric (assuming a "higher" mortality rate is not a good thing) and guess what...you didnt read about this in the news!!! Hard to fathom but this news didnt get any airtime as far as i can see.

I will post a link to the SHMI when I find one but for now I thought I would flag this up as something that may well prove very useful to patients in the future.

No comments: