Understanding Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios – Department of Health intervenes

As reported in the Health Service Journal (HSJ – 18 February 2010), the Department of Health is taking action to ensure the NHS agrees a way of measuring and reporting hospital’s death rates.

NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, has asked NHS North East chief executive Ian Dalton to lead a group that will agree a method for calculating hospital standardised mortality ratios (HSMR’s).

This is in response to the furore prompted by last year’s Dr Foster Hospital Guide (click here), whose HSMR’s contradicted trusts’ performance ratings according to the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and Monitor, regulator of NHS foundation trusts, calling these systems into question.

Some, according to the HSJ, have warned that an all hospital standardised mortality ratio or another single number indicator, which can easily be interpreted by the public, will never accurately reflect a hospital’s patient safety and quality. King’s Fund senior policy fellow and epidemiologist, Veena Raleigh, who last month published a report on quality measurement (click here) said the focus should be on several indicators.

Readers might be interested to read what Canada is doing about public reporting of HSMRs in relation to quality and safety. Click here.

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