A report on patient mortality rates at hospitals statewide indicates that Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital had lower mortality rates than the rest of the state’s facilities for three surgical procedures-hip fracture, gastrointestinal bleeding, and pancreatic resection-and higher-than-average mortality rates for four-brain surgery, acute stroke, balloon angioplasty, and carotid endarterectomy, the last being the removal of plaque from the carotid artery. The procedure for which Cottage’s 2007 mortality data was notably higher that the state average was acute stroke, at 14.5 percent mortality versus the state average of 10.4. For 2007, the Goleta Valley branch’s mortality rate was above the state average only on gastrointestinal bleeding, at 7.3 percent versus 2.1 percent. Cottage spokesperson Janet O’Neill said the hospital had significantly improved its stroke care since 2007 through, among other means, the recruitment of the esteemed neurovascular neurosurgeon Alois Zauner and the addition of a neuro critical-care specialist to work with him. O’Neill also said she hoped that the data-which came from California’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) and gauged all 381 licensed general and acute care hospitals in the state-would in the future be based on more than just administrative data.
For brain surgery, Cottage’s mortality rate was 9.6 percent versus the state average of 6.7. Its mortality rates for hip fracture and gastrointestinal bleeding were significantly lower than the state average. Data were based on inpatient billing, risk adjusted, but not meant to be a definitive measure of quality, OSHPD cautioned.