Nine out of ten preventable deaths in the NHS are not reported
article in the Telegraph
"Of the estimated 72,000 annual deaths in the NHS, just 3,200 are recorded by the National Patient Safety Agency, MPs were told.
The Commons Health Select Committee heard evidence from experts in its first evidence session on its investigation into patient safety.
The NPSA runs a system where all NHS staff can report incidents or near misses so patterns can be spotted and the wider health community warned.
Incidents can include drugs administered in the wrong way or the wrong dose, medicines mixed up, the wrong operation carried out, a patient wrongly identified and broken or malfunctioning equipment.
Howard Stoate, a practising GP and Labour MP for Dartford, said the National Patient Safety Agency's own estimates suggest there are 72,000 preventable deaths in the NHS each year.
However, the incident recording database had collected just 3,200 reports of patient deaths, in 2007/8.
He said: "That is not just under-reporting, that is an extra-ordinary figure.
"If the public realised that only between five and ten per cent of preventable deaths are being reported they would have something to say about that.
"For example if only ten per cent of airline crashes were reported we'd have some concerns about that."
NPSA chief executive Martin Fletcher replied that while there were 'issues' around under-reporting, reporting rates were continually improving.
Sir Bruce Keogh, medical director of the NHS, said no-one was 'comfortable' with under-reporting but he said people could not be 'forced' to report incidents.
He said it was the staff member's personal, moral and professional duty to report incidents.
In 2004 the NPSA produced a report that said one in ten patients admitted to hospitals will suffer a patient safety incident - almost one million people in 2002/3 - and up to half of these could have been prevented. It added that 72,000 of these incidents may have contributed to the death of the patient."
It's clear that there's not a lot of "personal, moral and professional duty" among the staff then, isn't it, despite the much vaunted medical ethics that health professionals are always prating about? - I note that the categories of 'incidents' listed above do not include completely disregarding the pain and other serious symptoms some patients report and therefore failing to investigate and do anything about them beyond trying to bully them into taking pain-killers. - This was my situation last year in hospital with a very complicated and painful fracture of my right humerus, immeasurably worsened by the splint I was forced to wear for nearly a fortnight, because the agony I reported and the pins and needles (indication 0f nerve damage) and the massive blue swelling (lymphoedema) of my hand unrelieved by elevation of the hand were ignored, apart from the bullying I have already mentioned.
I had explained to every doctor and every nurse that I was a steroid victim and that my hands were already delicate and painful and that the splint was causing terrible pain because of pressure on the arm and on my right breast. - Steroid victims need to be dealt with quickly because their skin and veins are so vulnerable to further damage... - There was a shocking lack of knowledge about the health problems of steroid victims and although some of the staff were very kind there was a deplorable ignorance and lack of understanding/compassion in others, and a total and lamentable failure to take seriously my need for unsalted food, since salt is extremely harmful to steroid victims, compounding their pain/symptoms.
Even after the operation and my return home, having to have carers to help me because of the damage done to my hand (it was completely unusable for months) by the hospital's negligence re the long delay in removing the splint and doing the operation, my pain and the pins and needles continued to be uninvestigated for nearly a year. When someone did look to see what was the cause of the pain he instantly realised that it was caused by ulna nerve damage and that the hand is wasting away and is on the way to becoming a hook, and the movement that I got back by such long, arduous effort, is being reduced again by this ulna nerve damage.
Well all this not bothering to take seriously the symptoms I reported has cost the NHS a lot as I was much longer in hospital - a month, rather than the few days it should have been - and the many hours of appointments with physiotherapists and occupational therapists, the transport costs et al. It has all taken a terrible toll on me in great and avoidable suffering. - And no-one ever says sorry or expresses regret or remorse and no-one really makes any effort to help with all the problems and difficulties caused to me. Making any complaint is futile because of routine defensiveness of health professionals and their cover-up culture and is highly likely to result in victimisation.
The NHS should be scrapped. It is extremely expensive and is wholly unfit for purpose.