Fewer die at Copenhagen hospitals

Greater Copenhagen hospitals saw 10 percent fewer deaths in 2010 than in 2004, according to a new study. The figures were compiled by calculating a nationwide inventory of Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) which shows the relationship between the number of actual deaths and the number of deaths that could have been expected at each hospital. The predicted mortality figures are based on factors such as a patient’s age, diagnoses and gender.

“The mortality figures in the hospitals of the Greater Copenhagen Region are far below the national average. It’s a very significant development. The work that has been done over the past few years is really showing results,” said Beth Lilja, head of the secretariat for the Danish Society for Patient Safety.

The society is one of the key players in efforts to reduce the amount of medical accidents such as professional errors, wrong medication and hospital infections that can cause unnecessary deaths. According to Lilja, the creation of emergency teams over recent years has helped stabilise patients whose conditions seem to be worsening. Doctors have also been asked to carry out more thorough autopsies to help determine what could have prevented a death.

The Danish Society for Patient Safety is also currently assessing whether simple improvements in hygiene procedures could explain the plummeting mortality rate. During the flu season in the last quarter of 2009, the number of deaths decreased significantly when both patients and medical staff were constantly rinsing their hands with alcohol.

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