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Mandatory reporting of adverse events needed

22 November 2006

Mandatory reporting of hospital adverse events needed

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Government to introduce mandatory reporting adverse events and medication errors as part of a nation-wide action to reduce the alarmingly high rates of adverse events in our hospitals.

Ms Kedgley's comments were in response to the findings of the Health and Disability Commissioner in his annual report.

"The Commissioner acknowledges that our hospitals are not acceptably safe as a result of the high rate of adverse events -which affect 12.9 percent of all hospital admissions. He notes that there is no nation-wide system to report on adverse events or analyse them, or take rapid action, and that progress in tackling the quality and safety of care has been slow, patchy and uncoordinated, and that our systems compare poorly with Australia and the United Kingdom."

The Health Select Committee had recommended last year that the Ministry investigate whether reporting of adverse events and medication errors should be mandatory and publicised, but no action appeared to have been taken, Ms Kedgley says.

"We urgently need mechanisms to ensure that hospitals take action to improve the quality and safety of care, and reduce the number of adverse events. At the moment there is no way that we can assess whether any progress is being made in our hospitals to improve the safety and quality of care, or hold hospitals to account." Ms Kedgley says.

"Reports of adverse events should be publicly available, as they are in other countries, so that hospitals are accountable for the safety and quality of the care they offer. This is an opportunity to save lives and should be a high priority for the Government. I am concerned that the Ministry appears to be foot-dragging on this issue,"

"It's also an opportunity for huge cost savings, as it costs an estimated $10,200 to treat a patient affected by an adverse event, and the overall cost to the health system is $870 million a year."

Approximately 10 percent of patients admitted to hospital acquire an infection while there, and New Zealand has one of the highest rates of hospital acquired infection in the developed world, according to a recently released Commonwealth Fund survey, Ms Kedgley says.


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