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Call For Inquiry Into Patient Death

28 September 2004

Call For Inquiry Into Patient Death Due To Untested Systems

“Health Cuts Hurt is calling for a full inquiry into the impact on patient safety of various cost cutting moves by the CDHB and in particular at Christchurch Hospital,” Heather Carter of Health Cuts Hurt said today. “Our group has received reports of a recent patient death linked to the failure of an untested communication system at Christchurch Hospital.”

“The so called $11m deficit at Christchurch Hospital has led to a spate of cost cutting reviews to telephonists, clinical records, maintenance staff and other groups,” said Heather Carter. “Now it seems there is evidence that what we feared all along has occurred - the cuts are impacting on patient safety.”

“An untrialled emergency communication system failed in this case with at least one patient not receiving appropriate treatment in a life threatening situation. The system was then placed on hold,” said Heather Carter. “Apparently in this case while the patient died, staff say ‘the patient would have died anyway’ – i.e. even if the doctors had got the message and got to the patient in time.”

“Our concern is obviously that such serious system failures next time will be in an ‘unexpected’ death situation such as a young child.”

“Cantabrians need an assurance that the cuts made by the Government and the cheaper systems put in place by management are not impacting on patient safety. An internal investigation into an event like this is not sufficient,” said Heather Carter. “A full public inquiry must be undertaken. “


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