Mortality rates in nine Alberta hospitals, including Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre, are below the national average, according to statistics released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
The institute’s 2011-2012 Health Standardized Mortality Ratio data is a ratio of actual deaths in a hospital versus expected deaths, after adjusting for factors that may affect death rates such as age, sex, diagnosis and admission status of patients.
“They look at what the average death rate is across Canada, adjusting for those factors,” said Carolyn Hoffman, Alberta Health Services acting senior vice-president, quality and health-care improvement.
“That means our actual deaths, when standardized and compared across Canada, are lower than the Canadian experience when you adjust for those factors.”
That national average is weighted to be 100 and a value of less than that is considered to be better than the national average.
Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre has an Health Standardized Mortality Ratio of 92, which means for every 100 patients likely to die, 92 of them actually died.
“This is one measure of the safety and quality of care delivered in hospitals,” said Hoffman.
“This is really reflective of the frontline actually taking steps to reduce the risk of mortality.”
Statistics from institute go back to 2007-2008, when Red Deer had a much higher ratio, at 114.
But that rate has steadily decreased since then. For Alberta, the ratio was 88, slightly lower than in Red Deer.
“We can’t just point to one thing and say this is why,” said Hoffman.
She did say there have been several initiatives at the Red Deer hospital that have contributed to the lower mortality ratio, such as the early intervention team.
“That is trying to intervene very early where symptoms of deterioration are detected, to try to get the team there to make an assessment and do interventions in a timely way,” said Hoffman, adding it helps stabilize patients.
One of the most important steps, according to Hoffman, is the medication reconciliation, which aims to ensure an accurate and complete medication history of a patient upon admission, or shortly thereafter.
Other steps implemented at the Red Deer hospital include the safe surgery checklist, which is used by surgical teams to reduce preventable surgical complications and improve surgical outcomes; a ventilator-associated pneumonia prevention, which aims to prevent pneumonia from being on a ventilator; and preventing central line infections.
Hoffman called these active steps to prevent care-associated infection, or hospital-acquired infection.
Now that health care officials have the statistics, Hoffman said it is important to monitor this indicator and once they have the results they look at them, talk to the zones and the site leaders who are responsible for delivering care.
“We share this information with them, we dialogue,” said Hoffman. “We talk about where we are at in terms of quality and safety and what they might to do to further improve it.”