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Patient safety programme reduces unexpected deaths

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A patient safety programme has played a major role in helping reduce the number of unexpected hospital deaths, Health secretary Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Sturgeon commented as figures showed a 6% fall in the number of unexpected deaths in the 18 months since the Scottish Patient Safety Programme was launched.

If that had been in place for the period October 2006 to September 2007 - the baseline year against which the hospital standard mortality ratio is measured - there could have been about 1,600 fewer deaths over the course of the year.

The Health Secretary said: “Driving down unintended harm to patients is a top priority for Scotland’s NHS and the Patient Safety Programme is absolutely crucial to helping us achieve this aim.

“Although there may be a number of factors contributing to the reduction in hospital mortality, I have no doubt that the programme played a major role.”

However, Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said some hospitals had higher mortality ratios than others.

If a hospital has a standardised mortality ratio of greater than one, the number of deaths is higher than expected, while a ratio of below one means the number of deaths is lower than expected.

The latest figures showed that across Scotland the hospital standardised mortality ratio was 0.94, however seven hospitals had a ratio above one, while the lowest was 0.24.

The aim of the patient safety programme is to reduce all hospital deaths, not just unexpected deaths, by 15%.

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