Yan chai again tops hospital death list
The new Tseung Kwan O Hospital and Yan Chai Hospital recorded the highest mortality rates following emergency surgeries over the past year, according to an internal report obtained by the South China Morning Post.
It was the third year running that Yan Chai topped the list, despite most of its patients being classified as low risk.
It was also the third internal report published by the Surgical Outcomes Monitoring and Improvement Programme, which measures surgical performance in the city's 17 public hospitals with emergency facilities.
More than 23,000 operations were performed in the hospitals from July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2011. Of the 5,167 urgent operations, 519, or 10 per cent, of patients died after 30 days, either because treatments failed or from complications, the report said.
There was no specific breakdown of the numbers of deaths that occurred in Yan Chai Hospital or Tseung Kwan O Hospital, which has just 15 emergency beds.
The Hong Kong Public Doctors' Association said small public hospitals often had staffing problems and lacked resources, which might have contributed to the higher death rate.
'These two hospitals are relatively small compared with other main public hospitals,' association spokesman Kenneth Fu Kam-fung said. 'Their performance may have something to do with their manpower and resources, which are often much lower than in big hospitals.
'The time a patient must wait before getting treatment is crucial in emergency cases.
'The authorities should plan to reallocate better resources to these small hospitals, so that patients' safety will not be sacrificed.'
The report did mark an improvement for one hospital; Tuen Mun Hospital had jointly topped the list with Yan Chai for the first two years but recorded a 'significant improvement in its performance in emergency operations' last year. The report rated the hospital as 'slightly better than average'.
The vice-chairman of the Alliance for Patients' Mutual Help Organisations, Cheung Tak-hai, said the group was concerned about the quality of services provided by public hospitals. 'But I am also worried that some doctors may feel pressured to stop doing risky operations to lower the death rate after surgery, so the overall performance of the hospital looks better,' he said.
United Christian Hospital and Tuen Mun Hospital had the highest death rate for elective operations, while Queen Mary Hospital and the Caritas Medical Centre performed the best. Queen Mary was 'outstanding and consistently so for the past three years', the report said.
The death rate following the 18,134 non-urgent surgeries performed in public hospitals in Hong Kong last year