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12,000 people die needlessly in hospital

13th July 2012

A report published in BMJ Quality and Safety has suggested that around 12,000 unnecessary deaths could occur in hospitals every year.

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The data analysis found that "poor clinical monitoring and diagnostic errors" made up the majority of the "needless" deaths.

The researchers analysed data from 2009 which reviewed the case records of 1,000 deaths at 10 hospitals in England.

The reviewers sought out issues such as inaccurate treatment, or incorrect diagnosis and treatment which could be associated with the deaths.

They then judged whether the issues had actually caused the deaths and if they were preventable.

The doctors gave each case a score from 1 (could not be prevented) to 6 (could be prevented) and calculated life expectancy.

They found that 131 patients had care issues which were a contributing factor in their deaths.

The research showed that 52 of the deaths had a 50% or over chance of not occurring if the patient had not been given the wrong treatment in hospital.

The authors said: "While the spectre of preventable hospital deaths may prove helpful in raising interest in patient safety and a commitment to improvement, overestimating the size of the problem and the risk to patients may induce unjustified levels of anxiety and fear among the public."

They added: "In addition, confirmation of the relatively small proportion of deaths that appear to be preventable provides further evidence that overall hospital mortality rates are a poor indicator of quality of care."

 

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