Evidence of methodological bias in hospital standardised mortality ratios: retrospective database study of English hospitals

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OBJECTIVE: To assess the validity of case mix adjustment methods used to derive standardised mortality ratios for hospitals, by examining the consistency of relations between risk factors and mortality across hospitals. DESIGN: Retrospective analysis of routinely collected hospital data comparing observed deaths with deaths predicted by the Dr Foster Unit case mix method. SETTING: Four acute National Health Service hospitals in the West Midlands (England) with case mix adjusted standardised mortality ratios ranging from 88 to 140. PARTICIPANTS: 96 948 (April 2005 to March 2006), 126 695 (April 2006 to March 2007), and 62 639 (April to October 2007) admissions to the four hospitals. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Presence of large interaction effects between case mix variable and hospital in a logistic regression model indicating non-constant risk relations, and plausible mechanisms that could give rise to these effects. RESULTS: Large significant (P


Original languageEnglish
Article numberb780
JournalBritish Medical Journal
Issue number7698
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009


  • Diagnosis, Survival analysis, Stroke, Regression analysis, Publication bias, Diagnostic accuracy studies