One death a week in hospital mishaps
‘Hospitals work to ensure that they are transparent when mistakes occur.’
Clinical mishaps have been linked to the deaths of more than one patient a week at Perth’s public hospitals.
Figures from the annual reports of the four metropolitan health services, tabled in State Parliament this week, reveal 58 clinical incidents contributed to the deaths of patients in 2016-17.
Another 140 incidents were linked to serious harm in patients, and another 71 incidents contributed to moderate or minor harm.
Hospital staff are obliged to report clinical incidents and near misses where harm could have been caused by the health care rather than the patient’s underlying condition.
They can include mistakes such as the wrong procedures or medications used, or patients falling from their bed. Cases where death or serious harm are likely to have occurred are given the highest rating of severity assessment code, or SAC 1.
East Metropolitan Health Service, which includes Royal Perth, St John of God Midland Public, Bentley and Armadale hospitals, had 25 deaths linked to clinical incidents.
South Metropolitan Health Service, which includes Fiona Stanley and Fremantle hospitals, had 19 incidents which contributed to deaths.
North Metropolitan Health Service, which includes Sir Charles Gairdner and Graylands WA Health Department
hospitals, had 13 deaths.
In its report, the NMHS said 49 cases had been confirmed as SAC1 events, with health care, or in some cases lack of care, contributing to patients’ poor outcomes.
“While it is known that all health care carries risk, it is with deep regret that NHMS acknowledges that 13 patients died and 32 patients sustained serious harm where our health care was a contributing factor,” the report said.
The Child and Adolescent Health Service, which includes Princess Margaret Hospital, had 20 confirmed incidents, resulting in one death, six cases of serious harm and nine of minor harm.
The Health Department said patient safety was the top priority for the WA health system, which was demonstrated in low hospital mortality and clinical incident rates.
“Hospitals work to ensure that they are transparent when mistakes occur, so they can develop strategies to help prevent adverse incidents from happening in the future,” it said.
“When a clinical incident is identified, immediate action is taken to provide care to the patient involved.”