FPH position on hospital mortality rates
FPH is committed to ensuring that hospital care is safe, effective and provides the highest possible standard of clinical care. It is essential to understand the controversies around hospital mortality data to prevent the significant harm that can come from their misuse. There has been controversy about how this data is interpreted since the days of Florence Nightingale, who pioneered the collection of it.
FPH does not support the use of risk-adjusted mortality statistics to compare or rank hospitals, nor does it believe they should be used to estimate preventable deaths. If hospital mortality data is to continue to be published, we need to carefully explain what the data means and outline its serious weaknesses and limitations.
There is an important place for the analysis of certain categories of deaths such as maternal or peri-operative deaths. However, the most effective way to analyse this data is through a confidential inquiry which seeks to learn and disseminate lessons, without 'naming and shaming' individual hospitals or their staff.
Hospital mortality data can be used for internal quality control and audit. We need to avoid using sensitive data for league tables and other ranking systems that are not reliable ways of measuring patient safety.
Written: 03/06/2014 , last modified: 26/09/2014