Hospital mortality data is not the best way to judge quality

Using hospital mortality data to judge quality may not be the most accurate way to measure quality.

According to Peter Pronovost and Richard Lilford in an article in the BMJ, a more reliable way to measure hospital quality would be to look at avoidable events, such as bloodstream infections. 

The authors propose these suggestions to measure quality:

  • Mortality rates associated with high risk procedures that are heavily dependent on technical skill, such as intrauterine transfusion and heart surgery will detect poor practice quickly.
  • Non-mortality outcomes, such as rates of hospital acquired bloodstream infections, are heavily influenced by quality of care.
  • Greater use of monitoring of clinical processes known to affect quality of care.  

(Sources: HealthLeaders Media,, April 22, 2010; Patient Safety Monitor Alert,, April 28, 2010)