Bolton NHS Foundation chief steps aside over deaths attributed to septicaemia
Jeremy Laurance is a writer on health issues. He is former health editor of The Independent and the i and has covered the specialism for more than 20 years. He thinks the harm medicine does is under-appreciated, the harm it prevents over-rated, and that cycling works better than most drugs. He was named Specialist Journalist of the Year in the 2011 British Press Awards.
Wednesday 27 February 2013
A hospital chief executive has stepped aside after an investigation revealed an unusually high number of deaths were classified as due to septicaemia.
Dr Jackie Bene, who was appointed acting chief executive of Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, agreed to the move while inquiries are carried out.
Septicaemia, a severe infection of the blood stream than can lead to death, is coded in a different way from other illnesses so that deaths from the condition do not affect a hospital's mortality rate.
As the former medical director of the hospital, Dr Bene was in charge of recording the information.
In a statement the Trust said early information from an audit had revealed 50 cases in which there were “potential discrepancies” in the way deaths had been coded. An independent team is to be brought in to look at coding practices.
The trust said there were no concerns about the care of patients but the audit had raised questions about “how the trust reports information for administrative and financial purposes.”
A high mortality rates is an indication of quality of care and can trigger an inspection by the Care Quality Commission, the NHS regulator. Fourteen hospitals which have had high mortality rates two years running are currently being investigated following publication of the Francis inquiry into the scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
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