Hospitals Sick with errors

Tuesday, 26 April, 2005

Hundreds of serious mistakes occurred in NSW hospitals over the past year, at least 128 of them resulting in death, the NSW government has admitted in a recent report.

The NSW government says it wants to learn from the mistakes and will now release data on serious incidents in the health system every 12 months. The chief executive officer of the state's Clinical Excellence Commission, Cliff Hughes, said the report was the most comprehensive of its kind in the country. "This sort of data ... gives us a platform on which to build an early warning system," Professor Hughes said. "I would expect that in 12 months' time we will see an increased number of reports ... because people will see the data can be handled sensitively and compassionately." The collection of information on patient deaths and injury in hospitals has long been a contentious issue at state and federal levels. Doctors have been accused of being unwilling to report errors regularly because of professional pride or fear of litigation, and governments have chosen to remain ignorant about deaths or injuries occurring in their hospitals. "We have finally got our act together," Professor Hughes said. "We have got the will, from the clinicians and the system, to make it happen - it is a big change in the culture of health that we have applied over the last 12 months."

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