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Medical Care:
doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3182a97c54
Original Articles

Temporal Variation in Surgical Mortality Within French Hospitals

Duclos, Antoine MD, PhD*,†,‡; Polazzi, Stéphanie MPH*; Lipsitz, Stuart R. ScD; Couray-Targe, Sandrine MD, MPH*; Gawande, Atul A. MD, MPH; Colin, Cyrille MD, PhD*,†; Berry, William MD, MPH; Ayanian, John Z. MD, MPP‡,§; Carty, Matthew J. MD

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Abstract

Background:

Surgical mortality varies widely across hospitals, but the degree of temporal variation within individual hospitals remains unexplored and may reflect unsafe care.

Objectives:

To add a longitudinal dimension to large-scale profiling efforts for interpreting surgical mortality variations over time within individual hospitals.

Design:

Longitudinal analysis of the French nationwide hospital database using statistical process control methodology.

Subjects:

A total of 9,474,879 inpatient stays linked with open surgery from 2006 through 2010 in 699 hospitals.

Measures:

For each hospital, a control chart was designed to monitor inpatient mortality within 30 days of admission and mortality trend was determined. Aggregated funnel plots were also used for comparisons across hospitals.

Results:

Over 20 successive quarters, 52 hospitals (7.4%) experienced the detection of at least 1 potential safety issue reflected by a substantial increase in mortality momentarily. Mortality variation was higher among these institutions compared with other hospitals (7.4 vs. 5.0 small variation signals, P<0.001). Also, over the 5-year period, 119 (17.0%) hospitals reduced and 36 (5.2%) increased their mortality rate. Hospitals with improved outcomes had better control of mortality variation over time than those with deteriorating trends (5.2 vs. 6.3 signals, P=0.04). Funnel plots did not match with hospitals experiencing mortality variations over time.

Conclusions:

Dynamic monitoring of outcomes within every hospital may detect safety issues earlier than traditional benchmarking and guide efforts to improve the value of surgical care nationwide.

Copyright © 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins

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