Monday 30 November 2009

Statistical niceties

It is right that Dr Foster highlights the differential death rates for hospitals. And it is also right to highlight any disparities between their findings and those of the hospitals inspectorate.

However, it is noticeable that one important fact, buried in the Observer report, has been studiously ignored by the BBC and most follow-up reports:
Overall, the hospital standardised mortality ratio (the actual number of deaths against the expected number) fell by 7% last year. That means 14,500 saved lives.
Of course poorer hospitals should do better for those patients who experience sub-standard safety and cleaning, and on the finding that across the system, to quote the Observer again:
5,024 people died after being admitted for "low-risk" conditions such as asthma or appendicitis, of whom 848 were under 65. A proportion of those deaths will be linked to safety errors.
But is it too much to ask for some context in reporting the whole story?

This post has been picked up by John Rentoul.

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