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HSE won't reveal death rates from patient harm
[Posted: Sat 16/07/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
A total of 83,483 incidents of patient harm and near-misses were recorded in Irish hospitals and other healthcare settings last year, and nearly €90 million is likely to be paid out in healthcare claims by the State this year.
However, neither the HSE nor the State Claims Agency (SCA), in announcing the figures, would provide an estimate of the number of deaths that may have occurred last year as a result of incidents caused by negligence, accidents or errors in healthcare.
Both agencies admitted they recorded the level of fatalities relating to patient harm incidents, but refused to give details of them at the launch of the incident figures yesterday.
The total number of incidents reported to the SCA, which indemnifies state hospitals and other health providers against claims and collects details of incidents, was largely the same last year as the level recorded in 2009.
SCA Director Ciaran Breen said the number of actual claims lodged against healthcare institutions amounted to only around 450 per year.
However, the total payout in respect of these claims was considerable, with between €80 million and €90 million likely to be paid out in respect of claims by the end of this year, according to Mr Breen. He said obstetric cases accounted for 60% of the claims payout.
A total of around €60 million was paid out in claims through the SCA in relation to care in to state health institutions in 2009.
A breakdown of last year's adverse events shows that 83,483 incidents were reported last year, including near misses, which accounted for 10% of the total.
Of the total reported incidents, slips, trips and falls were by far the most common occurrence, with just over 26,000 cases, followed by violence/harassment /aggression/abuse, and medication incidents.
There were just under 6,000 treatment incidents and just over 5,000 incidents relating to childbirth/maternity care in 2010.
Among the slips, trips and falls reported in healthcare, the most common cause was where patients moved without staff supervision. The most common medication incident reported related to the wrong dosage being given.
Physical assault was the most common incident under the violence/harrassment/aggression heading, with 4,625 cases reported last year. The most common treatment incident was an adverse outcome due to delays in treatment or failure to treat.
Some incidents during treatment involved an organ being punctured during keyhole surgery operations, according to Dr Ailis Quinlan of the SCA.
The HSE's Director of Quality and Safety Dr Philip Crowley said the figures were being published as part of the ongoing efforts to address patient safety issues in an open and transparent way.
However, this tranparency did not extend to revealing the number of deaths relating to patient harm incidents in healthcare settings, although it was indicated that such deaths would be rare events.
While at the launch of the statistics, the HSE and SCA cited ongoing coroners' inquests and patient confidentiality issues as possible factors, it remained unclear why these mortality statistics could not be released to the public.
Dr Crowley said things can go wrong in the provision of healthcare, and international data suggested that one in 10 hospital patients will experience some harm from an incident during their treatment.
"We need to face up to this as a healthcare system and as healthcare professionals. Patients too can become better informed and can play an active role in reducing the risk of harm occurring," he said.
Dr Crowley said the healthcare system sought to learn from when things go wrong, to be open about it and to try to ensure better practice to reduce the likelihood of the incidents happening again.
However, Dr Quinlan said the level of incidents reported in Ireland consistently mirrored the international picture of healthcare incident rates.
|anony Posted: 18/07/2011 19:58|
So we are Ok then - we have the same number as international scene. If the Department is going to release the number of deaths in hospitals surely we will have to be told what they died of - natural or by harm. The HSE however is not going to give us the breakdown of 12,000 deaths and how many of them were due to medical misadventure. That will surely leave many families wondering and possibly taking legal action to find out the truth.
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