NHS patient safety figures released show 45,000 mistakes were experienced over 6 months


Figures have been released which show that error by NHS staff has resulted in significant harm or death of 250 patients each day.

During a six-month period, 45,476 mistakes with serious consequences were experienced. This includes incorrect diagnoses and patients being given the incorrect drug or treatment.

Of this number, 43,518 resulted in the patient suffering significant harm and 1958 patients died.

When taking into account near misses, the data indicates that a total of 725,314 incidents related to safety occurred between April and September 2013. It has been stated that the majority of these cases were very minor.

This figure shows an increase of 9%, compared to the previous six-month period.

Officials stated that the reason for this is because staff are more honest and not that the care provided has worsened. However, campaigners believe that the figures are probably underestimated as there are many trusts that still do not own up to all their mistakes.

All NHS hospitals are obliged to report any harmful or near-harm incidents to the Care Quality Commission. This includes when treatment is not provided timorously, pressure sores, false diagnosis, incorrect surgery or medication overdoses.

In the past, some staff have not divulged their mistakes for fear of legal action being taken by patients or their relatives.

Peter Walsh from the charity Action Against Medical Accidents, said that these figures are a reminder of the long road ahead. He said that it is quite surprising how many mistakes actually occur. He stated that many experts believe that there is under-reporting, which means the real figures are much worse.

According to Peter Walsh, studies indicated that around one in ten patients admitted to hospitals were involved in a safety incident, but this figure included other Western countries.

He said that the culture should be corrected and regulations should be implemented that are fit for this purpose.

During March, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, announced plans for the improvement of safety in hospitals. He hoped that the plans would be able to save at least 6000 lives over the next three-year period.

These plans include close monitoring of hospitals as well as the recruitment of additional staff to cut down on harm caused.

The Director of NHS England, Dr Mike Durkin, said that the reporting of more incidents is encouraging as it indicated that staff were becoming comfortable with disclosing their mistakes and learning from it.

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