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Reporting DHB adverse events must be mandatory

5 December 2007

Reporting DHB adverse events must be mandatory: Kedgley

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley is repeating her call for standardised, mandatory reporting and publication of all adverse events in New Zealand hospitals, following the Dominion Post's exposé of 23 cases of serious medical mishaps between 2003 and 2005, including 16 deaths, at Capital and Coast Health.

"The public has a right to know how many adverse events are taking place in taxpayer funded hospitals, and to be able to compare the safety and quality record of different hospitals," Ms Kedgley says.

"In the absence of mandatory reporting, we don't know whether what is happening at Capital and Coast Health is unusual or if it is a symptom of a wider problem in our hospitals today.

"We do know that adverse events cost the health system an estimated $870 million a year and that each of these events costs an estimated $10,200. We also know that many are preventable.

"Reporting on adverse events in hospitals must not be voluntary. It shouldn't take a newspaper over two years to discover something as basic as the number of cases of these events at our local hospital.

"It is ridiculous that hospitals publish data on waiting lists, but refuse to publish data on adverse events. This culture of secrecy must change.

"Standardisation, mandatory reporting and publication of adverse events would allow us to assess trends over time, and see whether a hospital's performance in this area is improving or deteriorating.

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"It would also enable us to focus on hospitals which have particular problems in order to put more reliable and effective systems in place.

"Patient safety and reducing the number of adverse events in our hospitals should be the top priority for every hospital in New Zealand. Publishing adverse events helps to focus the attention of the system on putting procedures in place to improve safety.

Ms Kedgley noted that the Health Select Committee had called for the publishing of adverse events in DHB annual accountability documents, for the past five years.

"So far, DHB's and the Minister of Health have refused to comply with that request."


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