fbpx

3

SEPTEMBER, 2014

Bureaucratic reports
Actual numbers
Politics

Hospital errors, the hidden death toll

Australian’s are accustomed to hearing from politicians that they have the ‘best health systems in the world’. It is routinely declared to be ‘safe and affordable’. However, this belief is not born out by well written reports and hard statistics. There is a difference between what powerful lobby groups want public figures to say, and the truth.

Consider the following.

8,000 people may die every year in hospitals through preventable medical negligence in Australia. 50,000 people suffer from permanent injury annually as a result of medical negligence in Australia. 80,000 Australian patients per year are hospitalised due to medication errors. Quality and Accreditation in Health Care Services – A Global Review – World Health Organisation 2003. This report recommended the introduction of National Best Practice Clinical Guidelines to set standards of care that doctors and nurses be expected to follow. Thishas not been done.

Australians receive ‘appropriate care’ in only 57% of consultations. Care Track Study 2012 Medical Journal of Australia 2012. This report also suggested that National Best Practice Clinical Guidelines be introduced. This has not been done.

Piron Guillaume from Unsplash

3% of Australian Doctors accounts for 49% of patient complaints, and 1% of Doctors account for one quarter of patient complaints. British Medical Journal Quality and Safety 2012.  It was suggested that the appeals process be tightened to make it easier to de register poorly performing doctors. This has not been done.

As many as 18,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors, while 50,000 people suffer a permanent injury. ABC The World Today 2013. A 1995 study showed that 10% of people of people undergoing healthcare, experience some harm during their Care. It has been repeatedly suggested that Australia set up a national database of hospital errors, to identify causes and implement changes. ABC Life Matters. This has not been done.

Improvements must be made to communication between hospital boards and hospital executives, to increase honesty about hospital errors. One chair of a Melbourne hospital board complained that major investigations in the health sector still come about through media based whistleblowers, not internal data collection.

One chair of a Melbourne hospital board complained that major investigations in the health sector still come about through media based whistleblowers, not internal data collection.

The National Health Performance Authority was set up in 2011. It’s aim was ‘to provide consistent and comparable information about Australia’s health system to inform consumers, increase transparency and accountability’.

Three years later only public hospitals are legally obligated to provide data about errors and infection rates.

This is despite the fact that one third of Australian hospitals are now private. Despite calls to make reporting uniform across the public and private sector, this has not been done.

© Wikihospitals 2014

Hush Naidoo from Unsplash