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Reducing hospital errors would pay for Herceptin

Jackie Blue MP
National Party Associate Health Spokeswoman

11 July 2006

Reducing hospital errors would pay for Herceptin

If DHBs could reduce preventable adverse events by only 0.05% they would be able to fund Herceptin, the vital drug for women with early breast cancer, says National’s Associate Health spokeswoman, Dr Jackie Blue.

"A decision on whether Herceptin will be funded for women with early breast cancer is expected this month, and critical to the decision is whether the 21 DHB chiefs can fund the drug from their budgets.

"There has been recent publicity that $850 million is spent each year on adverse medical events. This figure comes from a 2002 study* which suggests that up to 30% of public hospital expenditure goes toward treating an adverse event.

“If it is extrapolated out for the 2006/7 financial year it means that a 5% improvement would equate to a $140.8 million savings. That means that if each DHB were to reduce preventable adverse events by only 0.05% they could fund Herceptin.”

Dr Blue says adverse events include medicine reactions or errors, and complications of treatment or hospitalisation, such as infections.

“This is absolutely achievable and I certainly hope Pharmac and the DHBs aren't short-sighted when making this very important decision.

“This is an example of how reducing the number of medical adverse events would have the dual effect of freeing up money that could fund new drugs or services, as well as eliminating pain and suffering for patients who could be affected by medical error.

“I am sure there are other examples where savings can be made so patient care improves as a result. We just have to look for them.”



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