Hospital deaths dropping in Canada

Your Health System
Public Summary: Hospital deaths in Canada (PDF)

December 2, 2014—New data shows that hospital deaths continue to decrease across the country. 2013–2014 data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) reveals that 57% of hospitals that meet the reportable threshold achieved a decrease in hospital deaths over the last 5 years.

For patients who die in Canadian hospitals, the 6 leading causes of death are stroke, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, sepsis and heart attack. Between 2009 and 2013, the leading causes of in-hospital deaths remained largely the same. Hospitals have made strides in reducing mortality related to heart attack (down 19%), sepsis (down 10%) and heart failure (down 5%).

“Studies show that public reporting on indicators such as Hospital Deaths plays an important role in improving the delivery of care and saving lives,” says Jeremy Veillard, vice president of Research and Analysis at CIHI. “Canada’s success is consistent with the experience we have seen in other countries such as the United Kingdom and the Netherlands since they began reporting on their hospital deaths results.”

CIHI’s data shows that out of 83 reportable facilities, 47 in Canada (outside Quebec) have significantly improved over the last 5 years. Variations occur from region to region and across the country, but the trend suggests improvement in patient care.

“CIHI will continue to gather and report on comprehensive data across the health sector to help inform policy and processes that improve the patient experience,” says David O’Toole, CIHI’s president and CEO. “Public reporting is a valuable tool and is making a difference in Canada and around the world.”

Updated results for the indicator Hospital Deaths (also known as HSMR, for “hospital standardized mortality ratio”) are available in CIHI’s Your Health System web tool. The tool features a broad range of indicators measuring how health systems and the health of Canadians are faring across the country.

How hospital deaths are measured

The HSMR compares the number of deaths in a hospital with the national average of 100 for the baseline year 2009–2010. A ratio equal to 100 is interpreted as no difference between a hospital’s mortality rate and the average rate of the baseline year. A ratio greater than 100 indicates that a hospital’s mortality rate is higher than the average rate of the baseline year. A ratio of less than 100 indicates that a hospital’s mortality rate is lower than the average rate of the baseline year.

2013–2014 results for all reportable hospitals and health regions outside of Quebec are now available in both the In Depth and In Brief sections of Your Health System. Results from hospitals and regions in Quebec will be updated to reflect 2013–2014 data in spring 2015.