Mortality Statistics and Your Hospital

The New York Times published a recent story on the secret recordings of doctors discussing concerns about poor surgical care. The outcomes from surgeries were so bad the doctors questioned whether they should refer patients for surgery if it meant in-house surgeons would perform the operation. You can read the article here. The popular podcast The Daily also published a story on the topic. You can listen to the podcast here.

The hospital offering the poor care now refuses to release its mortality statistics. The Times is suing the hospital for the release of the information. The information is called risk-adjusted mortality statistics. The data details patient deaths at a specific hospital for heart and lung surgeries. The data is adjusted to account for factors that may make some procedures and/or patients riskier than others. Medical experts regard the data as an excellent indicator of a hospital’s performance, including whether a hospital is losing patients who should not die.

Risk-adjusted mortality statistics are published on a website run by the Society of Thoracic Surgeons. The statistics are searchable from hospital to hospital on a wide range of heart and chest surgeries. Hospitals self-report the statistics to the website. There is no requirement for hospitals to report such information.

Patients should be concerned about a hospital which refuses to report its mortality statistics. As one of the doctors in the Times article states, “You should think twice about going to a [hospital] that doesn’t publicly report. People don’t buy a car without knowing what the gas mileage is.”

Searching through the website, the following hospitals in Southwest Virginia did not report their mortality statistics:

  • LewisGale Medical Center
  • Carilion Franklin Memorial Hospital
  • Carilion Giles Community Hospital
  • Carilion Tazewell Community Hospital
  • Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital
  • Carilion New River Valley Medical Center
  • Sovah Health Martinsville
  • Wythe County Community Hospital
  • LewisGale Hospital Pulaski
  • Russell County Hospital
  • Buchanan General Hospital

Bo Frith