Heart attack patients 10 times more likely to die in some hospitals

James Reilly: Downgraded Roscommon hospital.

A report into hospital death rates has found patients are 10 times more likely to die of a heart attack depending on where they are treated.

A draft version of the long-awaited document, which was published last night on the Department of Health’s website, was central to the highly controversial 2011 downgrading of Roscommon Hospital.

However, despite concerns raised by the final report, more services are unlikely to be slashed as a result of the revelations.

According to the document, available at www.irishexaminer.com, the percentage of patients dying of heart attacks in Ireland’s worst-performing public hospital is 10 times higher than that at the best-performing facility.

Stroke patient mortality levels are also almost four times higher in the worst-performing facility than in those with the best records, while hip surgery-linked fatalities are three times more likely in some units.

No facility is named in the document, which is based on figures from 2008 to 2010, and examines the likelihood of someone losing their life within 30 days of being treated.

However, while the Department of Health said issues such as poor filing of medical records and other “technical” issues mean no clear conclusions can be made on patient safety, one facility at least has said the discrepancies show the need for full transparency when it comes to hospital deaths.

“As part of a national drive to improve quality and patient safety we believe that full disclosure of all private and public hospital mortality rates is required,” said Mater Private chief executive, Fergus Clancy.

“Clinicians and researchers have long recognised that publication of outcomes is integral to the creation of a high-performance culture. Such publications allows for good practice to be applauded and for improvement opportunities to be identified.”

The department said the conclusions should not be used to imply a lack of “quality of care” in certain hospitals, and stressed some of the information is six years old.

The only facility which is identifiable in the document is Roscommon Hospital.

This is because Health Minister James Reilly cited a draft version of the report as the reason why his party backtracked on an apparent pre-election promise not to downgrade the hospital’s emergency department and acute services in 2011.

According to the report, Roscommon had a heart attack mortality rate of 21.3% within 30 days of treatment between 2008 and 2010. The figure is three times worse than the national average and five times worse than the best-performing facility.

Just over 11,000 people die in Irish hospitals every year.

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