North York General Hospital is best in the Greater Toronto Area and second best in Canada.
Humber River Regional Hospital has made a dramatic improvement. And Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is holding steady with an above average grade.
North York’s hospitals have fared well on a national report card, formally known as hospital standardized mortality ratio (HSMR), which ranks hospital death rates.
The report card, released last week by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), compares the number of deaths in a hospital to a national average score of 100.
CIHI bases the score on a number of factors such as a hospital’s five-day mortality rate following major surgery and its 30-day mortality rate following a stroke.
The lower the score, the better a hospital’s mortality rate. All three of North York’s hospital recorded a better death rate than the national average. What’s more, each hospital has improved every year since the report card was first made public in 2007/2008.
North York General’s score for 2011/2012 is 70, which is the best in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and the second best in Canada behind St. Mary’s General Hospital in Kitchener, which had a score of 66.
In 2007/2008, North York General’s score was 115, followed in 2008/2009 with 108 and the following year with 103. In 2010/2011, the hospital broke the 100 mark with a score of 86.
“We did really well. We got 70, which is the best score,” said president Dr. Tim Rutledge. “Ours (mortality rate) is 30 per cent less than expected, which is the highest quality score in the GTA.”
The improved score reflects measures the hospital has put in place such as a computerized prescription system and an aggressive hand-washing policy, Rutledge said.
“We have hardwired quality and safety (into all hospital practices),” he said. Humber River’s score this year is 80, a significant improvement over its 2010/2011 score of 107.
The score is also dramatically better than the 134 it received in 2007/2008 when Humber River ranked as the worst in the Greater Toronto Area and the second worst in Canada.
The hospital didn’t initially release that score because it complained a coding mix-up didn’t accurately represent its true mortality rate but was later ordered by the Ministry of Health to reveal the rating.
Since 2007/2008, Humber River has boosted its results annually, with a score of 121 in 2008/2009, 110 in 2010/2011 and 107 in 2010/2011.
Hospital president, Dr. Rueben Devlin, said the report cards are important and he is pleased with Humber River’s improvements over the last few years. “HSMR, like other quality of care and performance indicators, is useful to indicate where improvement opportunities may be available.
"It’s important to understand that HSMR is a ratio which allows comparison to a benchmark – it is not a ‘mortality rate’,” he said in an email.
“The key is to see a positive trend in the scores over a number of reporting periods. We are pleased that the latest HSMR report indicates we continue to move in the right direction and we exceed the benchmark requirements. It supports what we see in other performance indicators, which in total show our quality improvement plans are having a positive effect for patients. We continue to work hard every day to provide the highest possible quality of care to our patients and our community.”
Sunnybrook’s score this year is 90. The hospital has steadily improved since 2007/2008, when it received a score of 107. In 2008/2009 and 2009/2010, Sunnybrook’s score was 102, followed by 95 in 2010/2011.
Sunnybrook’s above average score is a reflection of a number of procedures put in place to improve quality of care for patients, said Craig DuHamel, Sunnybrook’s vice-president of communications and stakeholder relations. Patient care is a teamwork approach for the hospital, DuHamel said.
While the mortality scores are important, they are only one indicator of a hospital’s performance, DuHamel said. He is worried patients will use the mortality score alone to judge a hospital’s quality.