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Nursing metric used for post surgery deaths


A death rate indicator closely related to quality of nursing care and nurse numbers has highlighted four hospital trusts with higher than expected mortality.

The indicator looks at the mortality rate in patients who have complications after surgery. It is often known as “failure to rescue”, as it records the failure to prevent death from complications.

The controversial Dr Foster Hospital Guide published last week named four trusts with higher than expected mortality on the measure.

Previous research has found performance on the failure to rescue measure is quite closely linked to nurse staffing levels. It is more closely linked than general hospital death rates – another indicator which has been used to name and shame hospitals.

The trusts named as performing poorly on failure to rescue were: Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust; Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust; University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust; and University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust.

Birmingham medical director Dave Rosser said: “The trust monitors its death rates on a daily, weekly and monthly basis and… the figures do not accurately reflect the quality of care given.”

A spokesman for Newcastle said the Dr Foster findings “in certain instances appear flawed and misleading”.

Hull chief executive Phil Morley said: “We are working hard to ensure our staff recognise when patients require early and specialist intervention…. Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire is a deprived area with specific health issues so it will take time to turn this around.”

University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust medical director Rob Courteney-Harris said: “We have met consistently with the Care Quality Commission, which has not shown any concern regarding surgery at the trust.”


Readers' comments (2)

  • Instead of hearing the defence, I would like to have heard what nursing numbers reflected higher deaths to patients. Also, what were the number one and two complications? Then I can get started and focus on one thing at a time for my staff.

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  • The death rates does not reflect the quality of care given. we have to look at the risk factors involved with each patient, what care was given, and where did things go wrong with the patients. I worked as a staff nurse in heart surgery in one of London hospitals. some weeks you do not get any deaths and some weeks you get 2-4 deaths. now if we look at the qaulity of the patients and their risk factors, then we could say there are some contributing factors and mainly deaths happen in the theatre or in ICU, so that does not involve the majority of nurses in general wards.

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