the personal injury and clinical negligence blog

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Adverse medical events still go unrecorded

The 2010 Dr Foster’s Hospital Guide published on 28 November 2010 confirms that many adverse medical events still go unrecorded. Now in its tenth year, the Guide is a joint venture with the Department of Health and provides a valuable public service by researching and analysing the data recorded by NHS hospital trusts in England in relation to adverse medical events.


This years Guide shows amongst other things that 62,800 adverse medical events were reported in hospitals in England in the period between April 2009 and March 2010. More concerning is the Guide’s conclusion that some trusts are still not accurately recording the true number of adverse medical events. For example, nine trusts recorded no instances of at least one type of adverse event. Some of the more eye catching statistics from this year’s Guide include the fact that over 13,000 women were recorded as having experienced obstetric tears (with an unassisted delivery) and nearly 10,000 patients were recorded as having suffered from an accidental puncture or laceration.


For practitioners, the Guide also helpfully sets out the two different ways of measuring mortality. Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (HSMRs) look at deaths across all admissions to hospital. A more relevant measure, however, certainly if a claim involves a death during or after a surgical procedure, is Deaths After Surgery which is concerned specifically with deaths among patients who have surgery and medical complications. As the Guide makes clear, this measure which is widely used in the USA is a new indicator for the UK. Clearly both measures should now be requested when making inquiries of trusts. 


The good news is that most trusts have shown improvements in patient safety. All hospital trusts in England now using the World Health Organisation’s Safer Surgery Checklist and all but three trusts are now compliant with the National Patient Safety Agency alerts. This being the season for annual awards, the Dr Foster Hospital Trust of the Year award went to East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust which was also the Foundation Trust of the Year. The full 2010 Guide can be downloaded at www.drfosterhealth.co.uk



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