Last year, 64 more people died than expected at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

ARH has highest mortality rate among large hospitals in British Columbia

Abbotsford Regional Hospital’s high mortality rate last year translated into approximately 64 extra patient deaths, a doctor with the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) has confirmed.

Last week, The News reported that ARH had a hospital standardized mortality rate (HSMR) of 116, nearly 20 per cent higher than the national average.

The figure takes into account Canada-wide death rates for dozens of different illnesses, and ARH’s HSMR was the highest of any large hospital in British Columbia.

In 2018/19, 401 patients would have been expected to die at ARH. But the hospital’s mortality figure translates to five dozen additional patient deaths at ARH. (The figure does not take into account assisted death or those who die in hospital while in palliative care.)

RELATED: High death rate at Abbotsford Regional Hospital

ARH has seen higher-than-expected numbers of deaths for years.

The mortality rate decreased substantially between 2014/15 and 2017/18, but never dipped below the national or provincial averages, which have also been dropping.

“It would appear that things were headed in the right direction until recently, when things changed, so it’s a good opportunity to ask questions,” CIHI’s Dr. Joseph Emmanuel Amuah told The News this week.

Heart failure, strokes and sepsis are the three most common causes of hospital deaths across Canada.

Amuah noted that the HSMR is a starting point, and that officials should look at a broad spectrum of measures.

The mortality rate is one of 12 different measures that CIHI uses to provide a snapshot of how various Canadian hospitals compare to one another.

Of those 12, ARH performs at about the nationwide average on eight measures, and below average on four.

Along with HSMR, ARH performs poorly on the rate of low-risk Caesarean sections, the number of patients re-admitted to hospital and, most dramatically, the time admitted patients spend in the emergency room. The last measure is nearly twice the Canadian average.

Fraser Health told The News last week that it was hoping to improve the mortality rate and cited a range of initiatives, including “enhancing hand washing, mobility, mouth care and reducing the number of days a person is on a ventilator, which can have an impact on hospital-acquired infections.”

The hospital’s sepsis rate is in line with Canadian averages, and C. difficile, MSRA and hand-hygiene rates meet targets, Fraser Health says.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
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