25 February 2007

Just Being In Hospital Is Far More Dangerous Than Driving

Deaths in NHS hospitals due to viruses contracted in those hospitals are at least as preventable as car deaths and are rising steeply as a cause of death. Based on the analysis below, just being in hospital is many times more dangerous than driving.

Preventable Deaths On The Road

A - Average UK car mileage (2005) 15,872km/annum
B - Vehicles On Uk Roads 25,000,000
C - Vehicle Kilometres Per Annum (A*B) 396,800,000,000km/annum
D - Road Fatalities (2005) 3,201
E - Vehicle Kilometres Per Fatality (C/D) 123,961,262km
F - Average speed on UK roads 50km/hour
G - Hours Driving Per Road Death (E/F) 2,479,225

Source for A. Source for D. B and F are ball park estimates.

Preventable Deaths In Hospital

A - Clostridium difficile on Death Certificates 3,807
B - MRSA On Death Certificate 2,080
C - Low Estimate Of Preventable Deaths In Hospital (A+B) 5,887
D - On NHS Wards (90% of C) 5,298
E - NHS Beds In Use (180,000 at 90% capacity) (2005) 162,000
F - Hours Spent In NHS Beds Per Annum (E*24*365) 1,419,120,000
G - Hours In Hospital Beds Per Death (F/D) 241,060

Source for A, B and D. Source for E.


At least 10 times as many preventable deaths are occurring in hospitals compared to the nation's roads. Resources should be reallocated with this in mind. For example, in 2006/07, Transport For London's budget for road safety is £42m, up from £18m in 2000. I don't believe this is an efficient allocation of public funds.


mens sana said...

so what's your point?

Surely not pouring more money into the NHS.

Presumably you're not seriously advocating cutting road safety budgets. How much money is raised from speeding fines and parking fines per annum in London-I'm sure that these more than make up for the safety budget.

One of the key statistics is the one you give in PDIH line E. The fact that average bed utilisation in the NHS is 90% means that there is no possibility of isolating infectious patients in the vast majority of cases.

We need to totally rethink the way we run our hospitals and a key part of that is removing the distortion of clinical priorities that central targets impose. In the long run I believe this would cost less, not more.

Andrew Allison. A Conservative View said...

The government thinks they can get away with hospital deaths because were are not a nation who will take legal action against the NHS. When the road casualty statistics come out each year the government feels it needs to make a response and redesign - what are perceived - dangerous junctions. If more families sued the NHS for negligence, the government would take this issue seriously. My father went in to hospital a couple of years ago for a prostate operation and then spent many weeks at home getting over MRSA. There are many people who put off operations because they are frightened they will die as a result of their time in hospital. It is a national disgrace

Guthrum said...

Thanks for that PT, just off for a MRI scan at Cheltenham on sports injured knee. Will take plenty of dettol with me.

Praguetory said...

What I'm saying is that in an NHS ward of say 30 people, one person will die from these infections per annum. I am saying that with that hit rate, 1. In the current situation I would do anything to prevent my nearest and dearest ending up in an NHS hospital 2. Data on where these infections have resulted in deaths should be publicly available to all hospital patients. 3. Much of the road safety budgets are wasted and are an inefficient use of scarce resources.

Anonymous said...

Number of MRSA deaths in private hospitals?

scroll down for the answer

wait for it


Anonymous said...

Didn't Maggie change the running of the hospital's from battleaxe matron's to "managers" ,seems to be about right.

Praguetory said...

The quality of anonymous comments is plumbing new depths. Next you'll be talking about your old mum left dying on a trolley by Thatcher. Doesn't cut any ice. Look at the graphs - deaths from these viruses have more or less quadrupled since 1997.

Anonymous said...


No just see it as the start of taking control away from Medical and internal control to Management and contractors , don't get your nickers in a twist Prague ,we all don't see Thatcher as the be all and end all of anything,she had a good start ,but started believe in her own PR , I am an Con ,but I v'e broken my rose coloured glasses.

Praguetory said...

I don't worship Thatcher, but when discussing pressing issues of today I find references to a politician who left power 17 years ago a bit odd. From foreign prisoners to the petrol crisis to MRSA, this government doesn't address anything until it reaches crisis point - an even then usually fails. I'm not pretending to have all the answers, just presenting facts to stimulate a debate. For example, mens sana makes some good suggestions that I'd like to see him/her develop upon.

Anonymous said...

Praguetory said...

The country is in a total mess,and we have a bit of local voting to enjoy, but you still have to have a look in the past to find where the seeds of the problem started , you say 1997 it's a good start but check back further
Is there any info on the NHS say back to 1970's, I am not getting at you or even try to change your mind ,the Conservative's were never angel's ,and Cameron has a lot to do change people's idea's of conservatism.
Mens sana suggestion of bed use, is a serious point (keep typing pint),how did we utilise the beds in the 70's ,how much was the risk of infection in the 70's as to 2007,did going from medical control Ie matron to management control help or hinder.

niconoclast said...

The NHS should carry a government health warning: Socialism Kills.

mens sana said...

A more detailed look at the MRSA statistics is very illuminating. When I was a medical student MRSA was very rare and any patient with it was completely isolated. The transmission rate was very low, and the incidence increased only gradually over the years until the number of cadses exceeded the number of hospital side rooms. I beieve that at any time up to that point (around the late 1990s) we could have acted as Holland did and effectively eliminated MRSA as a risk.

After that time we have been firefighting an epidemic, and this has been made more difficult by the pressure on hospitals to run bed utilisation rates of 95% and upwards due to Whitehall target setting.

BUT. mutley-ask how many unnnecesary deaths there have been in private hospitals because of the lower standards of resident medical staff, nursing staff and inadequate consultant cover see HERE and HERE. There are no statistics but if I had a serious illness nothing would induce me to be looked after in a private hospital.

On the other hand for a straightforward hip replacement, maybe. Or because thats the only place I'd be able to get optimal cancer treatment.

Anonymous said...

BUT. mutley-ask how many unnnecesary deaths there have been in private hospitals because of the lower standards of resident medical staff,

I actually stated about MRSA deaths that there aren't any- but your point is well made. My question is - why are there no MRSA deaths in the private sector?

mens sana said...

Largely because everyone has their own room so transmission rates are lower. But also because the standard of reporting is much less good. Until very recently private hospitals were under no obligation to report MRSA. So they didn't!

Also dont forget that if you get very ill in a private hospital you will probably be transferred into an NHS facility, so they will cop the "death statistic", even if its not their fault.