Death rates spike in Sacramento County EDs

It's a fact of life that people die in emergency departments, of course. But in Sacramento County, CA, it seems they're dying at higher rates than in virtually any other county in the state. Unfortunately, hospital officials there aren't sure how to account for the death rate gap, as there's no obvious demographic difference between Sacramento County residents and their neighbors--making it harder to reduce the numbers.

Emergency rooms in Sacramento lost 27 out of every 10,000 patients during the last three years, compared with a statewide average of 17. That makes Sacramento County's ED death rate the second highest in the state. Since there's no obvious reason for these differences, county health planners have come up with lots of possibilities.

Some theorize that Sacramento's population might be more prone to sicknesses that send people to the ED, while others suggest that ambulances are more likely to bring terminal patients to the hospital here. Still others suggest that the numbers that made Sacramento County stand out aren't worth much--that data collection by hospitals has been sloppy enough to account for the differences all by its lonesome.

Still, anomalies like this are going to get a lot of attention in the future--as the world gets steadily more transparent--so expect to duke this issues out in public.

To learn more about this trend:
- read this Sacramento Bee article

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