Pneumonia the cause of most hospital deaths in the region
More people died after being admitted to hospitals in the Black Country and Staffordshire with pneumonia than any other condition, figures reveal.
New NHS data shows 2,175 people died after getting the infection in 2018, in which lung tissue becomes inflamed and fills with fluid.
The British Lung Foundation said that between five and 11 adults in every 100,000 get pneumonia each year in the UK, with over-65s particularly vulnerable.
A BLF spokesman said: “There are things people can do to reduce their risk of pneumonia, such as not smoking, and there are vaccinations available to protect those who are at higher risk.”
Broken down into areas, in Dudley 305 people died of pneumonia in 2018.
It means that of the 2,100 deaths over the year in the trust’s hospitals, or up to 30 days after patients were discharged, 15 per cent were linked to a diagnosis of pneumonia.
In Wolverhampton, 345 people died of the infection during the same time period – or 13 per cent – out of 2,755 deaths throughout the year.
Over in Walsall the number was a bit lower - 285. It was 18 per cent of deaths that were linked to the infection, out of 1,565.
Elsewhere in Staffordshire - at the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust – 845 people died from pneumonia in 2018 out of 4,565 deaths, equalling 19 per cent.
The second most common initial diagnosis for deaths across the region was septicaemia, or blood poisoning.
The picture is reflected across England, where more people also died after being diagnosed with pneumonia than any other condition.
Across England, around 15 per cent of the 293,000 patients who died last year were initially diagnosed with the condition.
Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said the data confirmed “the massive stresses the health care system is under”, and that it reflected an older and frailer hospital population.
Commenting on the pneumonia figures, he added: “The stress to the system is added to by the fact that this sort of illness is not one that is treated in 24 to 48 hours in the elderly, and often they will need longer times in hospital and then time recovering.”
NHS Digital, which released the data, said the reason a patient was admitted may not directly correspond to their cause of death.