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Tuesday, February 24

Medical Mishap Reporting should include aged care

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is calling for the reporting of medical mishaps in the health system to be extended to cover aged care homes.

Today’s report on Serious and Sentinel Events may only be scratching the surface of serious incidents in the health sector because aged care facilities providing hospital care are not included.

“We have campaigned for many years on the need for comparative data on medical mishaps such as medication errors, surgical deaths and infections. This 2007/2008 report is a step in the right direction but there is still no standardised reporting system for District Health Boards, and so we are still not able to compare how different hospitals are doing.

“The public has a right to know how many people are dying or becoming infected as a result of mistakes in taxpayer funded hospitals and aged care facilities. The new reporting system is a good start, but the Government needs to extend it to aged care facilities as they often provide hospital care for residents.

“Until now aged care providers have been shielded from scrutiny and it is time for transparency and openness in this area as well,” said Ms Kedgley.

“This report highlights that 76 people died in incidents related to medical mishaps. This is way too many. Patient safety and reducing the number of mistakes and serious errors in our hospitals and aged care facilities should be a top priority of the health system”, said Ms Kedgley.

Monitoring will help identify hospitals with high levels of serious incidents and allow for these to be addressed. A key issue is overworked staff and under-resourced hospitals.

“The purpose of such transparency is not to shame and blame individual health professionals, but to give New Zealanders an understanding of how safe their health system is.

“If hospital staff are overworked and exhausted, as a result of inadequate staffing and resources, these preventable mistakes will continue to occur” Ms Kedgley said.

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