Saturday 1 October 2016

Heart death rates three times higher in some hospitals

Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30

Commenting on the variations, Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said various reasons can be behind the difference in figures but it could include the quality of care. Photo credit: Martin Nolan
Commenting on the variations, Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said various reasons can be behind the difference in figures but it could include the quality of care. Photo credit: Martin Nolan

The death rate for heart attack patients is three times higher in some hospitals than in others, a new league table has revealed.

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Mullingar Hospital has the highest death rate for heart attacks in the country, at 9.27 per 100 patients.

It is also high in Tullamore at 9.04 and in Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown with a rate of 8.68.

In contrast, Navan has a death rate for heart attack patients of 3.25 and it is 4.28 in Wexford and 4.29 in Waterford Regional.

Quality

The rates are adjusted for age but it is unclear why there are such variations and whether they relate to patient safety and quality of care issues.

Factors which can play a role include how soon the patient was brought to hospital and their overall state of health.

The first such league tables were published last year but it is unclear what has happened by way of follow-up since then.

Commenting on the variations, Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health, said various reasons can be behind the difference in figures but it could include the quality of care.

"What we want to see is the local service taking responsibility and accepting that it is an issue they need to address," he said.

"It was not the role of the Department of Health to send experts to the hospitals and investigate what might be going wrong."

"Processes are already in place," he added.

The league table for deaths from the most common form of stroke also reveals huge variations. Death rates from ischaemic stroke were highest in Navan Hospital and lowest in the Mater in Dublin.

Average

The age standardised death rate from this kind of stroke within 30 days of admission fell from 11.4 deaths per 100 cases to nine in 2015, a fall of 21pc.

The OECD average is 8.4 deaths per 100 cases.

All stroke patients on diagnosis should be admitted to a properly equipped stroke unit, staffed by a multidisciplinary team but this is not available in several hospitals.

The report highlights variations in rates of hospitalisation for asthma, diabetes, heart failure and COPD.

The proportion of cases undergoing hip fracture surgery within the recommended two days of admission also differs between hospitals.

Irish Independent

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