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Death rate concerns at local hospital

View profile for Judith Thomas-Whittingham
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Some deaths at Royal Bolton Hospital may have been wrongly attributed to septicaemia, a report has found.

It was revealed by the Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group that in March 2011 to April 2012 there were 800 recorded cases of septicaemia at the hospital. Not all of these cases resulted in deaths. Deaths from septicaemia are 'coded ' in such a way that they do not negatively affect a Trust's mortality rate in the same way as deaths from other causes.

Septicaemia is a bacterial infection of the blood caused by the body reacting to a pre-existing infection. It most commonly occurs in patients who have an infection in their lungs, urinary tract, abdomen and pelvis. Among those most at risk of developing septicaemia are people who are already in hospital due to another illness or those recovering from surgery. 

The Bolton CCG commissioned the independent healthcare watchdog, Dr Foster to investigate. The initial report, released on 6 March 2013, found that of 150 reported cases of septicaemia (not all of them fatal), 76 were found not to have met the coding standards. A further, more detailed clinical review has now been commissioned.

The Trust has stated that it does not believe there are any concerns about the safety of patients, however, there is a concern that families have previously been told that a loved one has died of septicaemia when in fact it could have been a different condition which caused their death.

By Gemma Crompton

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