Recent research shows that hospitals that only perform certain surgical procedures occasionally are more likely to have higher mortality rates. This is the conclusion of the Dr Foster Hospital Report 2011, which looks in particular at the example of Abdominal Aortic Aneurisms. [The excellent Dr Foster site which you will find by clicking here, is run by the Dr Foster unit at Imperial College London – it provides independent, highly respected guides to UK health providers, and provides, annually, the best benchmarking report on UK hospitals].
AAA surgery can be a life-saving procedure, but it needs to be carried out in highly qualified facilities, or else the risk of mortality can be increased. The research carried out for the Dr Foster guide shows that hospitals that perform fewer than 35 AAA procedures every year have death rates that are 70% higher than those hospitals that carry out more than 35.
One of the conclusions of this is that those hospitals that are currently performing fewer than 35 AAA procedures every year either need to cease carrying them out altogether or they need to increase their specialisms and expertise so that they can carry out more. It tends to be larger hospitals with specialised surgeons and units that have the best mortality rates for this procedure.
Of course, this doesn’t necessarily just apply to AAA: there are quite a few different procedures that could be affected in this way. And, given the results of the Dr Foster report, it seems that patients are likely to want to check out the regularity with which their hospital carries out procedures before they are admitted for surgery so they can be certain of the specialism of the location and its doctors.
Unsurprisingly, hospitals who perform poorly and have higher mortality rates, also give rise to a much higher percentage of medical negligence claims that would otherwise be the case.