High death rate at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

High death rate at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

Abbotsford has the worst-performing large hospital in B.C. on key safety measure

Abbotsford Regional Hospital is the deadliest large hospital in British Columbia, according to new figures.

More people died at ARH than expected, given the demographics and afflictions of those patients entering the hospital, according to figures collected, analyzed and released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI).

In 2018/19, the Hospital Standardized Mortality Rate (HSMR) was 97 in Canada, Fraser Health and across similar large hospitals – and 96 in British Columbia, according to CIHI.

At Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Clinic, the HSMR was 116.

The HSMR figure looks at the number of actual deaths in a hospital compared to the number of deaths that would be expected, given a variety of factors, including the age, sex, diagnosis and admission status of patients.

The rate at ARH has been above the Fraser Health, British Columbia and Canadian averages since at least 2014/15. The HSMR had decreased from 114 in 2015/16 to 104 in 2017/18. But the 2018/19 figure is the highest in the last five years.

Fraser Health said in a statement that it’s focused on reducing the rate and working to improve patient outcomes.

And while it pointed to the decrease in the HSMR between 2015 and 2018, the statement didn’t address last year’s dramatic increase.

The statement also cited the hospital’s status as a trauma centre and cancer clinic, although other such facilities in the province do not have such high standardized mortality rates.

Fraser Health’s statement pointed to the upcoming expansion of its emergency department, the addition of some new beds, “strengthening the partnership with Mission Memorial Hospital,” and increasing oversight of complex care cases.

Work has also been done to try to reduce the number of hospital-acquired infections.

In its September report card, Fraser Health said it had worked on “improving care for patients whose condition unexpectedly worsens.” The report card said the health authority is focusing on sepsis rates, with enhanced training for nurses and doctors.

ARH’s sepsis rate was actually below the Fraser Health, B.C. and Canada average last year, and its C.difficile, MSRA and hand-hygiene rates also meet targets. It also performed adequately on many other measures of safety, with fewer deaths following major surgery.

Still, patients spend far more time in the ARH emergency room than in most other ERs, and the hospital has been struggling with capacity issues for years. In 2018/19, it operated at 117 per cent capacity, according to data obtained by The News. Only Chilliwack General Hospital was more overcrowded – although CGH has an average mortality rate.

The News requested to speak to Health Minister Adrian Dix, but had not heard back as of press time. The ministry said Fraser Health would address the issue.

RELATED: Abbotsford mayor says hospital needs to be expanded

RELATED: Abbotsford hospital has ‘extraordinary’ challenges, says health minister as ER construction nears

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