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Important Lessons From Major Study

A major pilot study of adverse events suffered by hospital patients shows areas where improvements to the health sector can be made. The New Zealand Medical Association welcomes the study, by Professor Peter Davis and his colleagues, published in today's New Zealand Medical Journal. "This study, of patients at three Auckland hospitals, shows a similar rate of adverse events to that found by equivalent research overseas," said NZMA Chairman Dr John Adams. "It is an important move towards collecting information which will help health professionals achieve good outcomes for all patients."

Dr Adams said the findings fit completely with the recently published report by the Health and Disability Commissioner into Gisborne Hospital, and the Cervical Screening Inquiry Report.

"Quality assurance and attention to the capability of systems within our health service appear to be the best ways for us to continue to improve standards of care. On the other hand, finger pointing and blaming of individuals achieves very little in the way of increased quality.

"Money is not the only issue, but it's a vital one. Insufficient funding creates stress, which leads to poorer quality care. If we want quality assurance and reliable systems, then these must be properly funded."

The study, carried out using 1995 data, regarded about a third of the adverse events as clearly preventable. Qualify assurance systems have improved markedly since then.

"The study lists improved education, improved resources, quality assurance, communication and systems reorganisation as areas having the potential to reduce adverse events," Dr Adams said.

"This report will be of interest to District Health Board managers, board members and senior staff. It is vital that the lessons of Professor Davis's study are put into action."

(An electronic copy of the study Adverse Events Regional Feasibility Study: indicative findings is available from the NZMA National Office. It is a pdf file which requires Acrobat Reader to open. Alternatively, a faxed version can be sent. An accompanying paper, outlining the methodology of the study, is also available).

ENDS

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