East Lancashire hospitals have large increase in 'palliative' deaths (From Burnley and Pendle Citizen)
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East Lancashire hospitals have large increase in 'palliative' deaths
HOSPITAL bosses said a large increase in the number of ‘palliative’ deaths –- a coding used for patients who were expected to die – was not an effort to improve mortality rates.
The proportion of palliative deaths at the Royal Blackburn and Burnley General hospitals stood at about two per cent from 2003 to 2010, but jumped to around 10 per cent for the past three years.
Mortality statistics expert Professor Brian Jarman claimed the disgraced Mid-Stafford-shire NHS Foundation Trust ‘removed deaths’ from its performance record by increasing the use of the palliative coding.
He said palliative deaths at Mid-Staffs shot up to 30 per cent in 2008, and this had coincided with the launch of a major inquiry into standards.
The Lancashire Telegraph asked East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has had a ‘higher than expected’ mortality rate in recent years, to explain why its own use of the coding had increased.
Rineke Schram, medical director, said: “Despite a rise in the number of deaths coded as palliative within our trust, the percentage of patients who die and are coded as having had palliative care is quite low compared with the national picture.
“We only code cases as receiving palliative care when a member of the specialist palliative care team has been involved in the care of the patient, as required by the coding rules.
“A dedicated hospital specialist palliative care team began work in early 2008 and subsequently more robust methods of capturing team activity by coding were developed. In June 2010 more robust coding guidance was issue nationally which clarified when the palliative care code should be used.”
Palliative care is for seriously ill patients who are approaching the end of life, where relief is given for the symptoms of severe pain without treating the cause.
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