Patient Mortality Rates Decrease at King/Drew Medical Center, But Some Issues Remain, Report Finds
The number of deaths at Martin Luther King Jr./Drew Medical Center has fallen to a rate "in line with national averages," since officials closed the hospital's trauma center six months ago, according to a report released this week by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, the Los Angeles Times reports.
King/Drew's inpatient mortality rate decreased from 3.2%, or 26 deaths, in January to 1.6%, or 15 deaths, in June, the report states (Ornstein, Los Angeles Times, 7/30). The report concludes the hospital's mortality rate is "not much different than rates at other hospitals in Los Angeles County or nationwide," according the Los Angeles Daily News.
The report also noted improvements in the number of patient falls, emergency department triage time and length of stay, ventilator-associated infections and hospital length of stay (Anderson, Los Angeles Daily News, 7/30). In addition, doctors are "doing a better job" of supervising residents, according to the Times.
Although mortality rates improved, the report found that nurses notified doctors of abnormal vital signs in patients 58% of the time in May, compared with 75% of the time in January. Agency nurses now account for more than half of King/Drew's nursing hours, the Times reports.
The hospital also ranks below other county hospitals in adhering to national standards for treatment of heart attack, congestive heart failure and pneumonia patients, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).
DHS Director Thomas Garthwaite, the author of the report, noted that the mortality rate is only "one measure of how a hospital is doing," adding that "it's good that at least the mortality rate across [county] hospitals is in line with other university hospitals across the country."
However, Supervisor Michael Antonovich said the report is an effort by Garthwaite to influence the Board of Supervisor's Aug. 16 vote on whether to outsource King/Drew to a private company (Los Angeles Daily News, 7/30).
Jim Lott, executive vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California and a member of King/Drew's hospital advisory board, said, "I don't see any change [at King/Drew] of any substantial nature ... that's anchored to any sense of permanency. It's not as good as I think we would have expected it to be by this point in time" (Los Angeles Times, 7/30).