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Nurses Support Nationwide Hospital Safety System

New Zealand Nurses Organisation
Media Release
20 February 2008

Nurses Support Nationwide Hospital Safety System

The Minister of Health’s Quality Improvement Committee should take the lead in urgently initiating a national system to collect and analyse data on incidents and sentinel events in New Zealand’s public health system, says the New Zealand Nurses Organisation

NZNO CEO Geoff Annals welcomes the QIC’s report into serious and sentinel events to be released on Thursday but says a comprehensive national system to manage incident information must be developed to build on other quality improvement initiatives such as the joint NZNO-DHB Safe Staffing / Healthy Workplaces unit.

“A state wide systematic process for examining serious events in the public sector was introduced in New South Wales in 2003,” says Geoff Annals. “The NSW Department of Health invested $55 million dollars over five years to put the system into operation. The improvements in quality have been marked. Staff have acted on knowledge gained through incident notification to improve outcomes. New Zealand must make a similar investment. Progress on the proposed standardised approach to incident management has to be accelerated.”

“The system should be developed with clinical input and adequate resources to ensure health professionals are properly trained in its use. It should be easy to use and integrated into routine workplace practices,” says Geoff Annals.

“NZNO cautions against singling out individual DHBs and making cross-organisation comparisons. Definitions, systems and reporting requirements currently differ from one DHB to the next. This is a first report based on voluntary reporting and using different methods. Simplistic comparisons between DHBs are invalid.”

“However, while this first report of national sentinel and serious events may not be as rigorous as we would wish, it is a very important first step in improving patient safety. It is also timely in light of the comments made in Parliament last week by Health and Disability Commissioner Ron Patterson.”

“Nurses are absolutely dedicated to the provision of high quality public health services and NZNO’s safe staffing initiatives would be well complimented by a comprehensive, transparent incident reporting system,” says Geoff Annals.


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