Intended for healthcare professionals


Popularising hospital performance data

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: (Published 26 June 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:1772
  1. Pat Anderson, freelance medical journalist

    The publication last week of the first set of performance tables for hospitals in England provoked a storm of comparisons between hospitals by the media. England's Department of Health is keen,however, to stress that comparative death rate data should not be used to “name and shame” particular hospitals. Within two hours of the department's press conference last Wednesday, BBC television reported live from a ward at St George's Hospital, London, pointing out that it seemed to have the worst death rate after non-emergency surgery of any teaching hospital in the country. By 6 pm, the BBC's online news service had pinpointed St George's Hospital, Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust, and North Devon NHS Healthcare Trust—all apparently having high death rates compared with their counterparts.

    Thursday's national newspapers continued the exercise. The Times, Independent, Daily Telegraph, and Guardian published excerpts from tables listing different hospitals' performance, and interviewed representatives of those hospitals that seemed to have the worst performance. Among the tabloid newspapers, the Daily Maildedicated two pages …

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