Numbers, schmumbers

You may have read much, much earlier (February, March-ish?) about how the hospital my mom has worked in for over 30 years announced last January that it was closing. This fact was also the subject of a successful but tersely-worded essay to that hospital's scholarship program.

And the SF Chronicle, in all its undeserved glory, reported this weekend that many Bay Area hospitals and surgeons are, despite their fabulous reputations, getting failing grades in, uh, keeping patients alive after bypass surgery. The article does rightly point out that many of the "surprisingly deadly" hospitals in the government's report have patients who were much, much sicker than some of the other hospitals-- probably because of their fabulous reputations. If UCSF can't fix 'em, no one can, and no one else gets to try because they're already dead.

The 2003-2004 report on California hospital post-bypass surgery mortality rates is available on California's government website, and it reveals that my mom's hospital-- you know, the one that's closing-- has one of the lowest post-surgery mortality rates in California. They aren't doing as many surgeries per annum as some hospitals, but they had one person die that year (.41 percent observed, 1.72 expected), which is far below the state expected average of 3.08%.

This is much, much better than the hospital that Sutter said, "eh, pick up the load we leave behind" to. Memorial's observed mortality is 8.25% (expected 4.37). That's with fewer cardiac patients than Sutter and a larger facility with more doctors.

My mom chocks it up to a hot-shot, Doogie Howser-esque doctor that Sutter brought on to lead its cardiac surgical team. No doubt, though, that Mom's awesomeness didn't hurt.

So it sucks that Sutter still wants to close, both for my mom and for anyone in need of some cardiac surgery, but at least they gave me scholarship money?

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