San Antonio hospitals with highest percentage of deaths

Death Rate

Hundreds of patients die in hospitals every year; some due to life-threatening conditions, others due to medical errors.

Father, Mark Thorpe said hospital physicians had 3 chances to save his son's life and they missed all 3.

"He and I ran our last race together which was up at Johnson Space Center in 2002," Thorpe said. "Two months later, he was dead, that's the last race I ever ran."

It was also the last race 19 year old Alex would ever run, because months later while out on a summer run, he collapsed.

"His doctors totally missed the fact he was potassium depleted and that was causing arythmias," Thorpe said.

He spent five days in the hospital enduring invasive testing and according to Thorpe, no where in his son's discharge instructions did it say, no running.

Two weeks later, Alex collapsed and died while out jogging.

"I can tell you the painful part is to go back and look at my son's medical records and I just flip out," Thorpe said.

After losing his son to what he alleges was negligent medical care, Thorpe found out his son's death was not that uncommon.

"It happens far too often in this country and many people don't appreciate the danger in going to the hospital," Thorpe said.

News 4 compiled data from the Department of State Health Services and looked at the mortality rates for a fairly common procedure and multiple conditions with varying degrees of risk.

The most recent years of data for each San Antonio area hospital are 2013 and 2014.

Taking an average of those, the Trouble Shooters listed hospitals with the highest and lowest mortality rates for each category.

It is important to note, many of the numbers are not indicative of negligence.

Not all inpatient deaths are due to medical error, nor are they preventable.


North Central Baptist (lowest) 1.94%

Connally Memorial (2nd lowest) 2.05%

Methodist Texsan (highest) 8.11%

Methodist Stone Oak (second highest) 5.57%

Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage

Nix Healthcare (lowest) 0%

Methodist Stone Oak (2nd lowest) .43%

Southwest General Hospital (highest) 4.76%

Metropolitan Methodist (2nd highest) 3.08%

Coronary Angioplasty

St. Luke's Baptist (lowest) 2.42%

North Central Baptist (2nd lowest) 2.88%

Christus Santa Rosa Westover Hills (highest) 7.69%

Southwest General (2nd highest) 5.71%


Christus Santa Rosa Westover Hills (lowest) 2.37%

North Central Baptist (2nd lowest) 3.31%

St. Luke's Baptist (highest) 12.72%

University (2nd highest) 10.40%

Heart Failure

University Hospital (lowest) 1.27%

Northeast Methodist (2nd lowest) 1.9%

St. Luke's Baptist (highest) 4.68%

Southwest General (2nd highest) 4.58%

Heart Attack

Methodist Stone Oak (lowest) 3.92%

University (2nd lowest) 4.17%

Baptist Medical (highest) 8.10%

Southwest General (2nd highest) 7.71%

Looking overall at the numbers, St. Luke's Baptist Hospital had the highest percentage of deaths for stroke and heart failure, but the lowest percentage for coronary angioplasty.

Conversely, North Central Baptist Hospital is the only hospital citywide to rank in the top 2 (for lowest percentage of deaths) in 3 different categories.

Response from Baptist Health System:

"At Baptist Health System, we regularly evaluate our patient care processes and have a number of initiatives in place to help us continually improve and enhance the quality and safety of our care. We use publicly available data, coupled with our comprehensive internal data, to evaluate and improve our performance. Although we are pleased to see our commitment to quality at North Central Baptist Hospital reflected in the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) data, it is important for patients to understand that the data in this report is three and four years old, and accordingly, is likely not a current reflection of any of the included hospitals' current statistics. Further, the data is not risk adjusted, so it fails to account for the fact that certain hospitals care for sicker patients than others. For example, St. Luke's is a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and accordingly cares for patients with the most life-threatening stroke conditions. No individual grading scale or rating system provides a complete picture of the care provided at a hospital. We encourage patients to work with their physicians to use all of the available tools to decide which healthcare decisions are best for them."

Lisa McGiffert, Director of the Consumers Union Safe Patient Project said in addition to mortality rate, it is also important to look at the volume of specific procedures and surgeries done by each hospital.

"In surgery, typically most of the research shows that practice makes better," McGiffert said.

University Hospital Response:

"University Hospital is an academic medical center, a Level I trauma center and a comprehensive stroke center that sees the sickest, most complex and most badly injured patients from throughout South Texas and across the state. It's one of many factors that can influence mortality rates, which include deaths from any cause within 30 days of when a patient is admitted to the hospital. In the case of hip fractures, for example, our patients are more likely to arrive as a result of car crashes with serious and multiple injuries. And our status as one of the city's two state-designated comprehensive stroke centers means that other hospitals refer their sickest, most complex cases to us. Also, some of these categories involve relatively small numbers so that two or three extremely sick patients can skew any ranking. Despite serving a large number of patients with severe illness or injury, University Hospital demonstrates very low mortality in some of the most common conditions in our community, such as heart disease."

Southwest General was the only hospital to rank in the bottom 2 for highest mortality rate in 4 different categories.

Response from Southwest General Hospital:

"Southwest General Hospital (SWG) is committed to continuous quality improvement as part of our ongoing mission of providing high quality, patient centered care to communities we serve. In 2013 and 2014 we utilized this data to help us implement best practices in cardiac and surgical care. As a result, SWG was recently recognized by the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council for the fastest door to treatment time for heart patients coming to our ER. In addition, we have been fortunate to recruit a number of highly skilled cardiac and other specialty physicians to our facility, and our second cardiac catheterization lab will be open by this spring."

Christus Santa Rosa Westover Hills location ranked at the top in one category and at the bottom for another.

Christus Santa Rosa Health System Response:

"It is our mission at CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System (CSRHS) to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ to everyone, and often times patients present with advanced diseases and end-of-life conditions. We take all issues on patient safety seriously, and see safety and quality care as our priorities. While aware of the importance of morbidity numbers, CSRHS remains confident in our hospital's quality of care and patient safety programs, which are being constantly monitored and when necessary, improved upon. We are proud that our efforts to date have resulted in CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System receiving a 4-star rating by Medicare, placing it in the top 20 percent of hospitals nationwide, which reflects the compassionate commitment we have to providing health care."

Methodist Healthcare System also emailed a statement in response to mixed results.

Methodist Healthcare System Response:

"Patients should check with their physicians and read hospital websites for information on current hospital outcomes and initiatives such as accreditations and earned clinical rankings.

Recently Methodist Healthcare hospitals have earned designations and accreditations for top quality measures. Methodist Stone Oak Hospital was honored to be named a #1 hospital by the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS). The hospital is the only CMS 5-star hospital in San Antonio and ranked number six in the nation.

Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grades, which assign A, B, C, D and F letter grades to hospitals nationwide and provide the most complete picture of patient safety in the United States, gave three Methodist Hospitals a grade "A". Metropolitan Methodist Hospital, Methodist Texsan Hospital and Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital were three of 844 hospitals to be among the safest hospitals in the United States and the only hospital in San Antonio to receive an "A" rating.

In addition, Methodist Hospital, Northeast Methodist Hospital, Methodist Texsan Hospital, Metropolitan Methodist Hospital and Methodist Stone Oak Hospital have accreditations in heart, chest pain and stroke by various agencies that have strict guidelines in place for clinical expertise, quality and outcome measures. Metropolitan Methodist Hospital is also the first hospital in the city to be awarded the Joint Commission's Gold Seal of Approval for Sepsis Quality Measures."

Infection rates are another way to measure hospital care.

"The CDC estimates that about 722,000 infections occur in U.S. hospitals every year," McGiffert said.

She adds it is important to ask your doctor which hospitals they work in.

Thorpe, the advocate turned activist, who's published articles in medical journals said research is good, but maybe even more important are conversations with hospital administrators, doctors, friends and other patients.

There are several other organizations that rank hospitals.

Hospital Compare has more current numbers, but they rank the hospital systems, as opposed to the individual hospitals. Other factors such as patient experiences and readmission rates can also be found at Hospital Compare.

Consumers Union Safe Patient Analysis

Department of State Health Services Mortality Rates

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