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Minister must release crucial data now

14 February 2008

Minister must release crucial data now

The Green Party is supporting the Health and Disability Commissioner's calling for comparative data on hospital adverse events to be published, and says it should be made public before the next election, so that New Zealanders can finally get an understanding of how safe their local hospital is.

Ron Paterson has called for comprehensive information to be made available by District Health Boards, saying that New Zealand is falling behind the rest of the world on publication of comparative quality data.

"I have been calling for comparative data on adverse events such as medication errors, surgical deaths and infection rates to be published for the past eight years," Green Health spokesperson Sue Kedgley says..

"The Health Select committee has also repeatedly called the publication of adverse events,' Ms Kedgley says. "Successive Ministers dragged their feet and refused our request. So I sincerely congratulate Minister David Cunliffe for finally agreeing to publish the data, in response to Ron Patterson's call at the Health Select committee yesterday.

"Our system of reporting on incidents that go wrong in hospitals is primitive," Ms Kedgley says. "We don't even have a standard definition of what constitutes an extremely serious or 'sentinel' event."

"Last year several District Health Boards refused to disclose the number of serious mishaps in their hospitals, even when requested to do so by the Health Select committee.

"There's been a culture of secrecy and evasion, and it's got to end. It is extraordinary that we don't even know how many adverse events are happening in our hospitals, how many people are dying as a result of surgery, how many people are becoming infected in each of our hospitals, or how many are dying or becoming ill as a result of being given the wrong medication," Ms Kedgley says.

"It's great that the Minister has finally agreed to publish this comparative data but we shouldn't have to wait until next year for it. We need it now."


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