When’s a death not a death? When its not being counted.
Now this may seem an irrelevant and perhaps an irreverent question. But it becomes very relevant if you want to know how many peg it in your local hospital. Stafford hospital comes to mind.
God forbid that there’s no such place in Wales. But you’d like to know before you volunteered to submit yourself to a surgeon’s knife
Well, which hospitals would you avoid in Wales? The truth is Joe public wouldn’t have a clue. But what is perhaps a little worrying, there is some uncertainty amongst the professionals as which hospital has the highest death rates.
In the sprit of transparency and openness Local Health Boards in Wales have just published hospital mortality data on their websites. In other words how many people died in their care.
Its not just simply counting the dead. Oh no. If only things were that simple. But working out whether the hospitals make matters worse. And there can’t be anything worse than death.
The data is known as the Risk Adjusted Mortality Index (RAMI). Sounds complex doesn’t it. Make no mistake, it is.
Raw data collected by your local health board to form the index. Its worked out by comparing the actual number of deaths to the expected number of deaths. The set a baseline of 100. If the index is more than a 100 it means more deaths than expected. Under 100 less deaths than expected.
But just to confuse things further the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Chris Jones says we can’t depend on them. He said: “A higher than average number of ‘expected deaths’ should not be interpreted as the number of ‘avoidable deaths’.
Where does that leave the ordinary punter? Confused.
Basically although the figures have been published. It would seem that we can’t compare hospitals because the information they’re putting in is not consistent, even in the same health board. If you put rubbish in you get rubbish out.
So what’s the use of them. Well, we’re been told they will get better. Sure hope so, ‘cos we’d all like to start making informed choices as to whether we put of our lives in their hands.
And the graphs consistently show peaks in the winter months. So if you’ve got to go into hospital avoid the winter months.
But the real lesson of all this is that hospitals are not good for your health. Indeed looking at the number of RAMI’s over the base figure of 100, many are killing you with kindness.