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‘Plague proportions’ of hospital mishaps spark calls for complication data to be made public

Australia’s healthcare safety watchdog and public health experts have slammed hospitals, saying an unacceptable number of patients are leaving with medical problems stemming from hospital mishaps.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has criticised the healthcare industry for failing to disclose rates of mistakes within hospitals, or the hospitals which they occur in.

Dr Stephen Duckett, Health Program Director at the Grattan Institute, said it’s a huge problem and the government needs to act.

“Things are happening which shouldn’t, and they’re happening in plague proportions”, he told 3AW’s Ross and John.

“Overnight patients, about one in every four have something happen to them while they’re in hospital, they have an extra diagnosis that wasn’t there when they started.

“That’s bad, and hospitals have to do something about it, but also government has to do something about letting the public in on the secret, letting the public know that these things happen and that hospitals need to be doing something to fix it.”

While serious mistakes, such as operating on the wrong body part, are relatively rare, more minor mistakes are commonplace.

“The example of the wrong body part, and so on, very few of those happen, about 100 or so a year across all of Australia,” Dr Duckett said.

“Then there are more accidents, slips, mishaps, the wrong medication might be given.”

Dr Duckett called on the government to make mishap information publicly available.

“When things go wrong we’ve got to have systems in place which look at why they went wrong, and we’ve got to let the public know which hospitals these things happen in,” he said.

“The evidence from the United States is that not many patients actually do look at these things, but the hospitals do and they change their practices and they actually improve.”

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Image: Echo