Hospitals to be ranked according to avoidable deaths

Hospitals to be ranked according to avoidable deaths

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has ordered an annual review of "avoidable deaths" in NHS hospitals. Mr Hunt said that an annual review of the case notes of 2,000 cases of patients who later died would allow hospitals to be ranked according to their avoidable mortality rates. The yearly review will mean that England is the first country in the world to monitor the extent of avoidable deaths in the hope of finding ways to reduce them.

The announcement comes as new research by the health information company Dr Foster suggests hundreds of deaths were probably avoided because of a decision to put 11 failing English hospital trusts into special measures.

Mr Hunt said the notes taken by staff relating to the treatment of a sample of 2,000 patients who later died would be examined every year to determine whether mistakes had been made. These statistics would be used to establish a national rate of avoidable deaths in which hospitals would be placed in bands depending on the number of deaths estimated locally.

As part of the drive, hospital chairmen will have to update the health secretary every year with their plans to eradicate avoidable deaths.

Mr Hunt also promised additional training for new clinical staff. "I'm determined to go even further in rooting out poor care, and have ordered a national case-note review to work out the percentage of avoidable deaths by hospital," he said.

"I want all hospital boards to have a laser-like focus on eradicating avoidable deaths in their organisation; even one life lost to poor care or safety error is too many."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "The review will be used to establish a national rate of avoidable deaths every year, and on that basis place individual hospitals into bandings according to the number of deaths estimated locally."

The Labour Party said the announcement "did not seem ambitious enough" and said that it was looking at the possibility of a mandatory review of case notes for every death in hospital - not just a sample of cases as Mr Hunt proposes.

On Saturday, a report by the health service ombudsman warned the NHS over shortcomings in the way it investigated cases where poor care resulted in death or injury. Dame Julie Mellor said she had found that 40% of investigations into patient complaints were inadequate.

By Mark Gould,

OnMedica, Monday 9th February 2015.





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