Rosemary Bennett in the Times 29th March 2014 reports: Hospitals ‘are covering up death rates’ – Perverse incentives rule –
Hospitals have been accused of manipulating their death rates by classifying thousands of patients as terminally ill.
In an attempt to improve their statistics, they appear to be covering up the fact that patients admitted for treatable conditions are dying, experts say.
At some trusts, the percentage reported as having serious diseases, so their deaths are considered “unavoidable”, has increased more than tenfold in three years.
The information was uncovered by Dr Foster Intelligence, a joint venture with the Department of Health that monitors the performance of the NHS.
Roger Taylor, director of research at Dr Foster, said that an elderly patient might go into hospital with a broken hip, develop an infection and die. Staff would code this death as “palliative” even though the patient was not initially expected to die. This could be deliberate or a mistake.
Hospitals have defended their data gathering. The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals said they had specialist services offering care to terminally ill patients. “We now code those patients as palliative to ensure they receive appropriate care.”….