Hospital mortality can be reduced

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Smaller hospitals can have a lower mortality rate if doctors monitor each other better, and the medical staff follows national guidelines, and keeps better track of patient records. The Danner committee draws this conclusion after examining the deaths of nearly 800 patients in the Ruwaard van Putten Hospital in Spijkenisse.The Ruwaard van Putten Hospital made the news frequently the past few years because of many deaths in the cardiology department. The affair eventually led to closure of the hospital.

A committee headed by Professor Sven Danner was commissioned to examine the files of patients who were deceased in this hospital between 2010 and 2012. The death of 1 out of every 11 patients proved to be partly caused by the treatment.

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Much went wrong in care around the end of life of patients. One example cited the use of incomplete  treatment methods, such as the use of morphine as a means to keep people asleep. Records in the files were also inaccurate.

Yet the health damage that patients in this hospital were subjected to is not different from the national average, the commission found. She bases this on case studies in similar rural general hospitals in 2004 and 2008.

The cardiology department did not perform worse than other departments.

On that basis, Danner concludes that in hospitals similar to Ruwaard, permanent file investigation should take place, in which external experts must be involved.

Doctors should not be afraid to critically evaluate each other's work, according to Danner.