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Patients more at risk at night

30th October 2007

Information published by the Reader's Digest has revealed that almost a quarter of accidents suffered by patients within the system happen at night.

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The National Patient Safety Agency data showed that 140,000 incidents occurred in 2006/7 between 10pm and 6am.

Joyce Robins, of Patient Concern, said: "All too often patients, particularly the elderly, are not given the help they need at night."

"This is a time when people should be safely asleep. But when they need help with things such as going to the toilet there is no-one there."

She said often patients tried to get up by themselves and ended up falling.

The Reader's Digest looked at data from the National Patient Safety Agency from April 2006 to March 2007. It revealed that 22% of around 700,000 "patient incidents" occurred during the night.

Falling and slipping were the most prevalent cause of accidents at night - they made up 60% of the total. 6% of accidents were associated with errors in medication.

NPSA medical director Dr Kevin Cleary said that no information existed to show that patients were more at risk at night rather than during the day. He said that tripping and slipping accidents were being targeted by national programmes and guidance.

He commented: "The NHS provides 24-hour care and therefore some incidents will occur at night."


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