New report card on South Coast hospital death rates

Shoalhaven was one of only five NSW hospitals to record higher than expected death rates for ischaemic stroke in a three-year period. Picture: GREG TOTMAN
Shoalhaven was one of only five NSW hospitals to record higher than expected death rates for ischaemic stroke in a three-year period. Picture: GREG TOTMAN

Patients who attend Shoalhaven Hospital for ischaemic stroke are dying at a “higher than expected’’ rate than patients at other NSW hospitals according to a new report.

The Bureau of Health Information report, Exploring clinical variation in mortality, includes data on patient deaths from seven common conditions within 30 days of hospitalisation, from July 2012 to June 2015.

BHI chief executive Dr Jean-Frederic Levesque said the report analysed mortality rates to assess if they were lower, higher or as expected, given the age and health condition of patients, in 75 hospitals.

Shoalhaven was one of only five NSW hospitals to record higher than expected death rates for ischaemic stroke – 17.9 per cent compared to the state average of 12 per cent. This was up from 2009 to 2012, when its rate was no different than expected. 

Meantime Wollongong Hospital recorded an higher than average death rate for haemorrhagic stroke – 41.1 per cent compared to the NSW figure of 32.8 per cent.

However the region’s three hub hospitals – including Shellharbour – recorded ‘’as expected’’ mortality rates for other conditions including heart attack and hip fracture surgery.

Lower than expected mortality rates were recorded for pneumonia at Shellharbour and Wollongong hospitals, while Wollongong also had a lower rate for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr Levesque said statewide there had been a ‘’substantial improvement’’ in death rates for all seven conditions over the past 15 years, including a 41 per cent decrease for patients hospitalised for a heart attack.

‘’Most recently, there has been a marked 11 per cent decrease in mortality rates among patients hospitalised for ischaemic stroke,” he said.