Scotland's hospital mortality rate drops by 4.5%
The mortality rate at Scotland's hospitals has fallen by 4.5% over the past two years.
Official statistics show the drop was achieved between January to March 2014 and the same period this year.
The Scottish government said the decrease equated to 3,000 fewer deaths than predicted during the period..
Health Minister Shona Robison said the figures were "encouraging" as the NHS was treating more people, with more complex needs, than ever before.
Two hospitals - Belford Hospital in Fort William and the Royal Alexandra/Vale of Leven - had significantly higher mortality than the national average in the period January to March 2016,
Another two - the Western General Hospital, in Edinburgh, and Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow - were significantly lower.
The Scottish Patient Safety Programme was set up with the aim of reducing hospital mortality rates by 20% by the end of 2015, a target that was missed by 3.5%.
A new target has now been set to cut mortality rates by a further 10% by December 2018, when compared to the first quarter of 2014.
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: "It is encouraging to see that our commitment to patient safety across the health service is delivering such strong results, especially at a time when our NHS is treating more people, with more complex needs, than ever before.
"The 4.5% drop in mortality rate since the start of 2014 shows we are making progress towards our new aim of a 10% reduction by December 2018. This is on top of the improvements in mortality already achieved since the start of the Scottish Patient Safety Programme in 2007.
"Scotland was the first country in the world to implement a national patient safety programme and is the only UK country publishing and driving improvement in our NHS through the use of mortality data in this way."
Professor Jason Leitch, clinical director for NHS Scotland, said: "Our NHS is working to deliver the safest possible hospitals we can for Scotland, and today's figures show we are continuing in the right direction towards our new demanding target.
"The vast majority of the thousands of patients who come through Scotland's NHS every day are cared for safely and successfully by our hard working frontline staff.
"Across our NHS, these staff have put patient safety at the heart of everything they do. And this culture is helping the NHS to be open and honest where care falls short of what we expect, and ensure we learn the right lessons.
"However, there is always more we can do. Patient safety will always remain a top priority for NHS Scotland and we will continue to deliver safe, person-centred care to thousands of people across Scotland every day of the year."