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Review concerning adverse medical events

22 September 2000 Media Statement

Review of processes concerning adverse medical events

Health Minister Annette King and Alliance MP Phillida Bunkle announced today that the Government will appoint an independent reviewer to review processes for reporting and investigating adverse medical incidents.

Mrs King said the review was designed to ensure that draft legislation to improve the framework for occupational regulation of health professionals would ensure that agencies could identify patterns of adverse medical outcomes and take timely action.

The reviewer, who has yet to be named, would have expertise in medical and health care law, she said.

"Recent publicity about Northland doctor Graham Parry has suggested concerns could have been brought to light and acted on earlier. The key is to make sure that the new legislation, when it is finalised, better protects the public so patterns of adverse outcomes can be quickly identified by the responsible agencies, and responded to in a coordinated way."

Mrs King and Ms Bunkle said the reviewer would be required to review relevant legislation concerning the Health and Disability Commissioner, the Medical Council of New Zealand, the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and the ACC Medical Misadventure Unit, and to report to Mrs King by November 30.

It was anticipated the reviewer might need to talk to women in the Northland area, and the reviewer would be required to examine how each of the agencies responded and reacted in terms of the events surrounding Dr Parry.

Mrs King said she had received representations from Ms Bunkle and lawyers representing a number of women who had been patients of Dr Parry. "Those representations have been referred to the Ministry of Health for appropriate action. While these individual cases must be processed through existing procedures, it is important that we learn from this and other situations and ensure that new legislation improves future processes and outcomes."


Draft Terms of Reference

You are required to review the relevant legislation concerning the Health and Disability Commissioner, the Medical Council of New Zealand, the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and the ACC Medical Misadventure Unit.

Following the recent publicity of events surrounding Dr Parry, in order to inform the general review outlined below, you are required to examine how each of the agencies responded and interacted, and whether their actions were coordinated and timely. It is anticipated that you may need to interview patients in the Northland region (with their consent). Your review must not interfere in any way with relevant current or impending proceedings, including those of the Medical Council of New Zealand.

You should report to me by 30 November 2000 on:

(i) What lessons can be learned concerning:

1. the processes and timeliness of investigation(s) of medical practitioners undertaken by the Health and Disability Commissioner, the Medical Council of New Zealand, the Medical Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and ACC Medical Misadventure Unit;
2. any regulatory and institutional barriers that may exist which impede the timely identification and investigation of adverse medical outcomes by medical practitioners;
3. any regulatory and institutional barriers to information sharing and coordination regarding adverse medical outcomes, between the agencies identified above;
4. any improvements necessary to allow patients better to identify and access patient complaint mechanisms.

(ii) any legislative, regulatory or procedural changes which could ensure that adverse medical outcomes are identified and appropriate, timely remedial action is taken, having regard to the changes proposed in the Medical Practitioners Amendment Bill, the Health Professionals Competency Assurance Bill, and the Mortality Review proposals in the New Zealand Health and Disability Bill.

(iii) any further relevant recommendations.

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