Hospitals: Denial of care costs 2,500 lives

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The Independent Online
More than 2,500 people may die every year - a similar number to those killed in road traffic accidents - because they are being wrongly turned away from intensive care units, according to a new study.

Patients who were turned away from hospital intensive care units because of bed shortages were 60 per cent more likely to die than those who were admitted, said researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine writing in the Lancet.

The study, the first of its kind in Britain, examined six intensive care units over a three-month period and compared the death rates of patients who were refused admission because of lack of facilities with those who were treated.

Researcher Alison Metcalfe and her team found that 165 of the 650 adult patients who were eligible for admission were turned away.

When they followed the cases up, three months later, they found that 37 per cent of those who were admitted to intensive care, and 46 per cent of those who were denied admission had died. They concluded that the potential excess risk for those who were not admitted was 60 per cent.