Issue: 2015 > March > original article

The standardised mortality ratio: the proper quality indicator in acute leukaemia?

L. Saes, W.G. Peters, R. Schaafsma, D.J. van Spronsen, A.W.G. van der Velden, W.F. van den Bosch, E. Meijer
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Background: The standardised mortality ratio (SMR) is a quality indicator used to measure quality of care in the Netherlands. It is subject to much criticism, which was the reason to study the value of the SMR as a quality indicator for the treatment of acute leukaemia. Methods: A retrospective analysis was performed in patients with acute leukaemia admitted to a Santeon hospital during the period 2005-2009. SMR values were calculated and compared with the overall survival (OS). Results: During the study period, 455 unique patients were admitted with acute leukaemia. SMR calculation was based on 992 admissions. SMR analysis yielded a high mortality ratio in hospital 1, 2, 3 and 4 in comparison with the national average (100), significant for hospital 1 and 4 (180 [CI 95% 126-257] and 187 [CI 95% 134-261], respectively) OS analysis also showed a significantly different outcome between hospitals. However, using OS as outcome parameter, hospital 2 and 6 showed the lowest performance as compared with hospital 1 and 4 using SMR as parameter. After multivariate analysis, age (HR 1.04; CI 95% 1.03-1.05; p < 0.001) and hospital (hospital 5 compared with 6: HR 0.54; CI 95% 0.30- .98; p = 0.043; hospital 2 compared with 1: HR 1.51; CI 95% 1.02-2.23; p = 0.039) were the only significant variables that influenced OS. Conclusion: Outcome according to SMR is not equivalent to outcome according to OS. This study shows that the use of the SMR as a quality indicator for the treatment of acute leukaemia does not appear to be justified.