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When the Public Benefit Corp.’s board of directors meets Friday to consider the fate of D.C. General Hospital, one question board members might ask is whether any one of them would risk his own life by going under the knife at the ailing public institution. Earlier this year, the D.C. financial control board received a copy of the Center for Healthcare Industry Performance Studies’ report that compared mortality rates at four area hospitals—including D.C. General and Greater Southeast Community Hospital, which at the time faced closure due to bankruptcy. According to the numbers, adjusted for both case mix and severity of patient illnesses, D.C. General’s mortality ratio ranked roughly two-thirds higher than the national average and twice that of Greater Southeast. Of course, as the control board notes in an internal memo on the study, D.C. General’s notoriously sloppy record-keeping may have skewed the data. Also, the control board reports, mortality rates aren’t universally abysmal at the hospital; they vary from department to department. Neurosurgery ends up looking almost like a death wish, but the hospital’s cardiovascular surgery department experienced zero mortalities in the study period. One important fact to note, however: D.C. General rarely performs cardiovascular surgery. —Stephanie Mencimer